ROBERT TIDY, FRAUDSTER, SCAMMER AND BANKRUPT THREE TIMES
If you looked at Robert Tidy's social media accounts, you might think he's a billionaire amid the first class flights, designer watches, five-star hotels, even eating caviar for dinner.
In reality, he's been bankrupt multiple times, held up at gunpoint over money and none of the digital business concepts he's been spruiking in the past decade, have ever taken off.
Now burnt investors, some of whom invested their entire superannuation in questionable business ventures championed by Tidy are speaking out about his dealings.
Robert Tidy's father Colin was one of Australia's biggest bookmakers prior to his death in 2018.
Robert followed his father's footsteps as a gambler, even making headlines as a 16-year-old for a big win at the track in his home town of Sydney.
Now aged 50, Robert Tidy's luck is running out after a series of failed investment opportunities that have left investors millions of dollars out of pocket.
"I'm not a bad person and if I was I would be in jail," Tidy said when confronted by A Current Affair at the Hilton Hotel in Sydney.
Robert Tidy's problems began with a venture he founded called Bartercoin, a proposed new cryptocurrency launched in Trinidad four years ago with Patrick Antoine.
50-year-old Tania Pickering was one of the Bartercoin investors who says part of the sales pitch was that it was backed by the government of Trinidad, making her think 'you can't go wrong.'
Turns out it wasn't backed by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago which eventually put out a warning, advising the public, it "is not associated with, nor has it endorsed a BarterCoin Exchange."
The warning went on to describe such offerings as, "unregulated and speculative investments, with considerable risk to the investor."
That warning was too late for people in Australia who had already invested close to $5 million.
Tania Pickering was one investor being wined and dined on a Bartercoin sales tour that visited Perth, meeting prospective investors in a suite at the Hilton hotel.
She says members of his entourage told her Rob Tidy was a billionaire, as "bricks of money" were passed around supposedly from new investors.
36-year-old Alex Dunbar was another investor who says West Indian cricketers Chris Gayle and Brian Lara were touted as Bartercoin ambassadors alongside a high pressured sales pitch from Robert Tidy.
"It's kind of really in your face, it's high pressure 'buy now, do now' and you kind of almost feel bullied into the transaction," he said.
After investing $40,000 of his hard earned savings, Alex Dunbar waited for Bartercoin to launch when Rob Tidy showed up at the Coachella music festival with predictions the five cent coins could get to $20, "if people don't be silly."
Soon after, Robert Tidy informed investors there were problems with the project.
"Rob's directors or managers were trying to take over the coin from him and they were trying to sabotage his vision," Mr Dunbar said.
This is a regular occurence with many schemes Robert Tidy is involved in.
Just when about to launch, a business partner does something that scuttles the whole thing.
When confronted by A Current Affair over the failed venture, Robert Tidy claimed he never sold Bartercoin to people, nor was he ever a director.
Initial documents listed Robert Tidy as CEO of Bartercoin but he would later claim to be only its founder.
Alex Dunbar's impression was that he was 'definitely running the show.'
"He claims everything is his and mine and all these sorts of words then he tries to say that he's not a director and that he's got no involvement in the control or the management of the company," Mr Dunbar said.
Robert Tidy claims Bartercoin did launch and got to "$17 on an exchange", though investors like Alex Dunbar claim they were never informed it had ever launched.
Bartercoin is still listed with a current value of 0.1 of 1 cent.
The highest selling price A Current Affair could find listed on publicly available trading sites was $4 with a volume of just over $200.
In an email in July 2018, Robert Tidy informed investors of "five million in paid coins in Australia" and another five million worth of Trinidad dollars overseas but now claims only "$1.3 million" was invested in Australia.
The Trinidad investors were able to get most of their money back but whether Rob Tidy arranged that is in dispute.
The Australian investors A Current Affair has spoken to received no cash, simply getting rolled over into a new project called Zippet, a new digital venture that has ambitious goals such "bridging the gap between our current financial system and the systems being built for the future."
Investors in that new venture confronted Robert Tidy in a zoom call earlier this year while he was hospitalised with COVID-19 after it too missed deadlines for a launch date.
Many of the people investing in Robert Tidy's new ventures are unaware of his history of bankruptcy.
Records show that Robert Colin Tidy has filed for bankruptcy three times, with one of these annulled but two proceeding to a full three year term.
After initially claiming only one went full term, Robert Tidy then said, "Donald Trump was bankrupt six times, wasn't he?"
"I'm just saying to you people go bankrupt every day," he said.
Within weeks of his 2018 bankruptcy beginning, Rob Tidy was on a first class flight to Dubai, filming it all and posting it to social media.
He now claims it was "for business" and the flight paid for on points.
His Instagram account is filled with his first class mementos not only inside planes but also five star hotels like the Waldorf Astoria in Los Angeles.
His girlfriend Ariana has been a regular addition to Rob Tidy's latest international adventure, catching limos together in Las Vegas.
In Malta, a hotel room table is filled with designer watches and wads of cash.
When his investors first saw the flood of social media posts, some wondered where the money was coming from.
"I hope it's not the investment money," was Tania Pickering's thoughts at the time.
She is in additional pain, believing Rob Tidy that other parties caused Bartercoin to fail, she says she was then convinced to invest more money in his next venture.
"He suggested using our super so I did, I got my super out before I knew it, I had transferred over to him all my super," she said.
Robert Tidy claims proof of his good morals is that he offered free tokens to the burnt Bartercoin investors without ever asking for more cash.
"I'm saying we lost, here's a chance in the next one, I don't want any money from you," he said.
"I didn't ask people and say, "Listen, you've lost in that, you've gotta put money in this one."
Tania Pickering disputes that version of events, claiming Robert Tidy was "encouraging people to take money from their super and invest."
"I just want to make sure that he doesn't fool anyone else from now on because he's still doing it today, he's still convincing people and that's what he's good at is convincing," she said.
Robert Tidy lives in properties owned by his widowed mother, including an apartment at Tweed Heads and a sprawling mansion at Mt Tamborine near the Gold Coast.
He was back in Sydney just days before final settlement on his mother's sale of the family home at Coogee for $12 million.
In addition to admitting he's been held at gunpoint over money several times, Robert Tidy also revealed his elderly mother has been hassled by people pursuing money from him.
He is adamant that people who lost money were warned of the initial risks and have been hostile towards his offers of a new investment opportunity.
"If a quarter of what I say is true then aren't I the victim?" he said.
In recent days, Robert Tidy has also emailed investors in his latest venture to inform them he is now retiring from the project.
An ASIC spokesperson was unable to comment on specific matters but warned cryptocurrencies are often highly speculative investments.
"Many crypto-assets and other digital assets are commonly not considered to be financial products, which means they are not regulated by ASIC," the spokesperson said.
"Consumers should seek independent financial advice before making major financial decisions."
* Three months of investigation and two trips to Australia to expose Robert Tidy.
Chronicles of Monte Friesner - Compliance & Financial Crime Analyst
Contributed by "A Current Affair - Australia