Marino Law | Gold Coast Law Firm

Unravelling a $100M Mortgagee Ponzi Scheme: Protecting Your Home from Alleged Fraud Involving AMS Ivanhoe Lawyers

In a startling revelation, reported allegations have surfaced implicating John Adams, the former principal of AMS Ivanhoe Lawyers, in an alleged potential misappropriation of invested and/or loaned funds. The total quantum of the funds is estimated to be in excess of $100 million dollars. 

It has been alleged that following the receipt of funds, persons of AMS Ivanhoe Lawyers executed mortgages and registered them on the titles of properties without the knowledge or consent of the registered owners. In many cases, the registered owners never received any funds from the investors/lenders, or were even aware that mortgages had been registered on title.

The detrimental effect of this for the registered owners is that they may own a property with the title encumbered by a mortgage, of which the terms they never agreed, or received any benefit from. The mortgagee on title may seek to exercise its right to issue a notice of exercise of power of sale (which may be sent to an address unknown to the registered owner), take possession of the property, and sell the property to recoup their funds.

This could be the unfortunate reality that may occur unless steps are taken to have the mortgage declared void and/or seek compensation from a government statutory compensation scheme.

Our team has extensive experience across various states in Australia acting for victims of mortgage fraud in navigating this complex circumstance.


In C & F Nominees Mortgage Securities Ltd v Karbotli & Ors [2020] VCC 987, Marino Law successfully argued that the plaintiff, C & F Nominees Mortgage Securities Ltd, had not taken reasonable steps to verify the identity of the supposed mortgagor. Those steps oblige a mortgagee to verify the authority and identity of the mortgagor to ensure that the person executing the mortgage as mortgagor was the same person who was the registered proprietor of the land the subject of the mortgage.  As a consequence of the mortgagee’s failure to comply with those steps, the Registrar of Titles was ultimately ordered to remove the mortgage from the title rendering that mortgage void. A detailed article regarding this successful judgement can be accessed here.

It was also determined that the Registrar of Titles was liable to indemnify any person who suffers loss or damage a consequence of being deprived of an interest in land. It has been decided that such compensation can include the legal costs incurred in prosecuting the proceedings.

The above determinations in the decision were upheld on appeal. A detailed article regarding this successful judgement can be accessed here.


In Issa v Owens & Ors [2023] QSC 004, Marino Law once again successfully argued that the mortgagees had not taken reasonable steps to verify the identity of the supposed mortgagor before its mortgage was registered. As a consequence, the Court determined that the mortgagees did not obtain an indefeasible interest in the property upon registration of the mortgage.

In those circumstances the Court declared that the mortgage was null and void. The Court then ordered that the mortgage, the purchaser’s transfer and the Registrar’s caveat, amongst other instruments, be cancelled. The result of those cancellations is that the plaintiff has effectively retained her interest in the property.

In a further decision as to the issue of costs, the Court determined that the plaintiff was entitled to be paid her costs (in various proportions) by 11 of the parties to the proceeding.

A detailed article regarding this successful judgement can be accessed here.

Steps to Protect Your Home

It is important that any registered owner who believes that they might be affected by this scheme take immediate steps to protect their interests.

Those steps, ideally through an appropriately experienced legal practitioner, should include undertaking title searches, writing to various parties to demand the removal of the mortgage from title and commencing appropriate court proceedings.

The above is a general course of action to be taken, and every registered owner’s circumstances will be unique in their own way.

If you, or someone you know, may have been implicated in the alleged scheme involving AMS Ivanhoe Lawyers, the key takeaway from this article should be to take prompt action. The most serious of consequences of not doing so may be that your home is sold without you even knowing about it until it is too late.

Marino Law has extensive experience in acting for registered owners who have been the victims of fraud and saving their home from the mortgagees. Should you require assistance, please contact one of our highly experienced lawyers.

 Article by Rob Marino & Mark Steele 

Having practised law for more than 20 years, Rob’s experience is varied, from senior positions in leading Gold Coast Law firms to management positions in the United Kingdom and General Counsel for a Top 100 ASX-listed Funds Management and Financial Services company. Rob specialises in litigation and dispute resolution, and insolvency and has a particular interest in property and commercial law.

Rob is also Managing Partner of Marino Law, managing a large team of professionals and support staff in the delivery of high-quality legal advice teamed with outstanding customer service.

To contact Rob at Marino Law call today on 07 5526 0157


Bachelor of Laws
Bachelor of Business (Accounting)
Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice
Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Queensland
Solicitor of the High Court of Australia


Queensland Law Society
Gold Coast District Law Association













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