Maha Al Nasser got a little bit more than she bargained for on her shopping trip to the local mall.
She may have had groceries on her mind when she set out that day, perhaps a few Christmas gifts too. By the time she got home however Ms Al Nasser had bought a $207,000 time-bomb – a home loan she could not afford. It was to break up her marriage and bleed her dry financially.
Maha Al Nassar was signed up at the mall by scouts for the now defunct Adelaide mortgage broker, Power Loan. On top of the $207,000 loan, she was also inveigled into making a $120,000 ‘property investment’ in the doomed Westpoint Financial group.
The idea was that the income from the Westpoint investment would meet the repayments on the loan. Little did she know that financial planners were being paid hefty upfront commissions to plonk their unwary customers into Westpoint products. Little did she know Westpoint would soon go belly up.
The South Australia magistrate's court sentenced founder of Power Loan, Stephen McArdle, to 12 months in prison. There has been no justice for Maha Al Nassar though, or her family.
It began with that fateful trip to the mall, Westfield Shopping Centre in Parramatta, Sydney, in December 2004. She was approached by a Power Loan salesman with a deal she could hardly refuse: a ‘low-doc’ loan which did not require any proof of income.