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.