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Investment scams (get-rich-quick)

Investment scams can come in many forms—from an unexpected phone call offering an investment opportunity to an email encouraging you to buy shares that are about to go up based on 'secret' information. You could be offered early access to your super, gambling software or promised large tax deductions or refunds.

When you take part in an investment scam, you will probably lose a lot of money and may end up in considerable debt. If you invest in a dodgy tax scheme, you could also be liable to pay back any missing tax plus interest and penalties on top of losing your investment.

If you are approached by somebody out of the blue who offers you an investment opportunity, say 'No' and hang up the phone or delete the email. It is the best thing to do.

Do not rely on advice from the person trying to sell you the investment. Always seek independent financial and/or legal advice before making any investment decision.

Visit the Australian Tax Office website for more information on dodgy tax schemes.

Cold calling (investment telemarketing)
Unsolicited phone calls pushing high-return and high-risk investments, often in overseas markets. The callers sound professional but are not licensed in Australia.

Share promotions & 'hot tips'
Spam email or strange phone messages that urge you to buy shares in a thinly-traded company. The scammers wait until their victims invest before selling their own stock at a profit.

Investment seminars & real estate scams
High-pressure sales in high-risk investment strategies. Scammers profit through attendance fees and by selling property and investments at inflated prices.

Sports investment scams
Expensive software packages that promise to predict the results of sporting events or share market movements. When they fail to work as promised, refunds are hard to come by.

Superannuation scams
You are offered early access to your superannuation (‘early release’), often through a self-managed super fund. The scammers take a large part of your super for themselves, and put you at risk for accessing your super in an illegal way.

Similar scams:

Business opportunity scams
There are a range of scams marketed as business opportunities. They promise success but usually only the promoter makes any money.

Guaranteed employment / income scams
Scammers ‘guarantee’ you a job or certain level of income, tricking you into paying an up-front fee for a ‘business plan’ or materials.

Pyramid schemes
Illegal schemes that always collapse when the supply of victims dries up, leaving nearly everyone involved much worse off.

Up-front payment scams
You are asked to send money upfront for a product or ‘reward’. You will end up with something much less than you expected, or nothing at all.

'Nigerian 419' scams
You are promised huge rewards if you help someone transfer money out of their country by paying fees or giving them your bank account details.