PennyTel enters liquidation after Hi-Tech fraudulent payments claim

PennyTel enters liquidation after Hi-Tech fraudulent payments claim

Summary: Low-cost Vodafone reseller and VoIP provider PennyTel has entered liquidation amid claims that the company received fraudulent payments.

TOPICS: Telcos

Low-cost mobile reseller and voice-over-IP (VoIP) provider PennyTel entered into liquidation last week, amid claims that the company received AU$3.9 million in fraudulent payments from another liquidated company, Hi-Tech Telecom.

In what on the surface appears to be the demise of yet another mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) in Australia, PennyTel has deeper ties to alleged fraudulent payments from Hi-Tech Telecom, which was placed into liquidation in June this year.

The New South Wales Supreme Court granted search and freezing orders against Hi-Tech in June when Hi-Tech Telecom director Amadu Yahaya transferred AU$3.9 million to PennyTel and AU$1.2 million to another company, Invoisys, from funds advanced from Allianz to Hi-Tech. Yahaya at the time was the sole director of both Ivoisys and PennyTel until March this year.

Hi-Tech's receivers were unable to find any documents that justified the payments of that money from Hi-Tech to PennyTel and Ivoisys.

"On the face of it, at least as the evidence currently stands, the payments that Mr Yahaya evidently caused to be made to Ivoisys and PennyTel are payments which have been made for no consideration," Justice James Stevenson said in his judgment.

He said that the transfer of those payments appears to have been a fraud on Hi-Tech Telecom and Allianz, from Yahaya, with Ivoisys and PennyTel participating in the breach. The two companies were ordered to repay the money to Hi-Tech as part of the liquidation process.

As a result, PennyTel itself was entered into liquidation last week and customers have reported being unable to top up their accounts since then.

ZDNet has attempted to contact PennyTel about the impact of the liquidation on customers. The customer service line is still in operation; however, ZDNet was unable to speak to a representative for the company at the time of publication.

The impact on Vodafone as the mobile network PennyTel's services are offered through appears to be negligible, as ZDNet understands that PennyTel resells Vodafone services through AAPT, rather than directly through Vodafone. AAPT had not responded to a request for comment at the time of writing.

Topic: Telcos


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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  • Ivoisys

    The 'other' company is called Ivoisys, not Invoisys. Many Pennytel employees appear to be also employees of Ivoisys as they usually have both a Pennytel and Ivoisys email address.

    At the moment, services appear to be working normally for customers with sufficient credit in their accounts. However, unless the payment gateway is restored immediately, many customers will find their services grinding to a halt as their balance goes negative.

    The disappointing thing about this debacle is that there has been nil communications from the administrators/liquidators to Pennytel customers. A lot of customers, soon to be ex-customers, are of the opinion that the liquidators have been negligent in their duties.
    • My bad

      Fixed the spelling on that one. Thanks!
      Josh Taylor
  • MNF to the rescue

    On Thursday evening, a FAQ web page appeared on the MyNetFone website (which was subsequently removed) aimed at current Pennytel/iVoisys customers in which the company indicated that they had reached an agreement with the provisional liquidator for Pennytel and Ivoisys. Here are a few quotes from what was stated on the page:

    "MyNetFone has been working with the court appointed provisional liquidator and Pennytel and iVoisys's key suppliers with the aim of ensuring continuity of service to Pennytel and iVoisys's Mobile, VoIP, Broadband and Business customers. We are pleased to announce that we have now secured the necessary agreements to achieve this aim."

    "MyNetFone is committed to ensuring continuity of your PennyTel and iVoisys services and maintaining ‘business as usual’ during the transition."

    "Our priority is to ensure services & accounts remain operational. We are now looking to re-establish payment facilities as soon as possible on PennyTel and iVoisys accounts to allow you to top up and continue using your services."

    "We will undertake a full service review & will provide updates to you regarding your specific services."

    This has to be good news for many Pennytel customers who were looking down the barrel of losing their VoIP, mobile and ADSL services without much if any warning. Pennytel currently has many features that MNF lacks. Hopefully these features can be retained by MNF, making MNF a better and stronger VSP.