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Agency boss targeted by site hacker closes third agency leaving more firms chasing debts

The boss of a digital agency whose two previous businesses went into voluntary liquidation owing more than $1m, has closed down the latest version of his company with a fresh set of creditors now knocking on his door.

DCODR

Jamie Silver, the founder and managing director of Melbourne-based Dcodr Agency, shut down the business on February 12 saying it was “time to move on and embrace new opportunities”.

Silver and Dcodr hit the headlines last year after a developer took over the website of its client, Goswitch, accusing him of failing to pay an outstanding invoice.

Staff were told last month of the imminent closure and given four weeks’ notice.

Mumbrella understands a number of companies have been chasing Dcodr for unpaid bills for several months. Total debts are thought to be in the region of $200,000, a figure which includes money allegedly owed to staff in wages and superannuation.

Silver’s financial problems began to emerge last September when Dcodr was the target of a cyber attack from a disgruntled website developer who hacked the site of one of Dcodr’s clients, Goswitch.com.au, a gas and electricity comparison business.

Go Switch pay up Jamie

Visitors to the site were greeted with the words “Pay Up Jamie” plastered across the home page along with the message: “Jamie at DCODR didn’t pay the developer of this site and has an outstanding balance of $2975.”

The hacker also uploaded a video of Rihanna’s music video Bitch Betta Have My Money. Goswitch is still listed on Dcodr’s website as a client.

It soon emerged that the developer was not alone in being out of pocket, with two of Silver’s previous enterprises going under and owing well over $1m.

In December 2014, Silver took a company with an almost identical name to Dcodr Agency – Dcodr Pty – into voluntary liquidation with the business owing more than $532,000 to 12 creditors.

A report into the collapse by liquidators PPB Advisory was sent to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) “detailing offences that may have been committed by the Company and/or its officer”.

The liquidator said it was unlikely any creditor would receive any money.

Yet official documents show that in September 2014, three months before PPB was called in, Silver had registered Dcodr Agency with ASIC, a business which has continued to trade.

Several small firms are still chasing Silver for money for work carried out for Dcodr Agency.

Ronnie Davies, vice president IT Solutions at Optimal Transnational, a company specialising in outsourcing and offshore solutions, told Mumbrella his firm is owed $13,000.

“We were told by Jamie Silver back in November that he was unwell and that his wife would be taking over and that she would be paying our invoices. But we have not been paid.

“Our objective is to get our money and to let the entire nation to know what he is up to.”

Davis said Optimal Transnational would be consulting debt collectors in a further bid to retrieve the cash.

Asked if he expected to see any of the money, Davis said: “I don’t know. We just don’t know what Jamie Silver’s intentions are. He is not coming on the phone or responding to emails.

“When you work hard for even $1,000 it means a lot for you. It’s the principal but it’s the money as well. We want what is owed to us.”

Another company called Bench Marketing confirmed it was owed between $5,000 and $10,000 while Facebook and Microsoft were listed on an internal spreadsheet seen by Mumbrella as each being owed $42,000.

Jamie_Silver

Three failed agencies: Silver

Silver denied his company owed $200,000 and claimed the company will likely take a further few months to wrap up “so we can collect outstanding invoices and finalise other details”.

He also claimed to have lost more than $100,000 when the forerunner to Dcodr Agency – Dcodr Pty – “was forced into liquidation”, with Silver alleging he had been the victim of a fraud.

Silver also alleged his personal and office networks had been hacked at the time of the Goswitch website takeover.

Along with the collapse of Dcodr Pty, it also emerged that another of Silver’s businesses, Pixel Light, also called in liquidators with almost $550,000 owed to five creditors when it went to the wall.

Pixel Light had its roots in another of Silver’s enterprises, Clear Light Digital, a company he had jointly founded in 2005.

In 2011 Clear Light Digital joined forces with full service digital agency The Pixel Group and the entity was renamed Pixel Light, with Silver and The Pixel Group owner Stephen Marovitch the two directors.

After Marovitch parted company with Silver in March 2012, Silver became the sole director.

But in April 1, 2013 – eight months before it went under – Silver quietly signed the agency over to Rachel Petersen, Dcodr’s office manager and former nanny to his children.

Silver distanced himself from the failure by saying he was no longer a director of the company when liquidators were called in “as I had stepped back from the business for a while to allow me more time with my family”.

But this claim was rejected by former members of staff.

Sources told Mumbrella Petersen had been close to the Silver family “and thought she was doing some kind of favour relating to a potential rebranding of the company”.

“Rachel would not have had any idea of how bad the situation was at Pixel Light. She was the office manager and clearly was not running the show and agreed to become the director in good faith thinking she was doing them a favour.

“Jamie was still the boss, he was always introduced as the managing director, he was the one making the decisions and managing staff.”

In a further twist, Petersen later lodged a claim of unfair dismissal against Silver after she left in acrimony in mid-2015. Silver settled out of court but is understood to have stopped making payments despite the agreed settlement.

Despite the collapse of Pixel Light and its significant debt, a notice continues to appear on its website saying “Pixel Light has evolved” with visitors redirected to Dcodr.

Pixel_Light

Former employees have provided information to ASIC accusing Silver of phoenix activity, a practice which involves the intentional transfer of assets from an indebted company to a new company to avoid paying creditors, tax or employee entitlements.

ASIC said it was unable to confirm or deny whether it was investigating Silver.

Silver also denied he was planning to set up another agency called Airside Digital, a company name he registered with ASIC in April 2014, three months after the demise of Pixel Light.

“Airside Digital was set up as a joint venture that never eventuated,” he said. “I have absolutely no plans to run a digital agency or any other business using this company. It will be wound up in conjunction with the closing of Dcodr Agency.”

Steve Jones

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