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Sports investment scams

What are sports investment schemes?

Sports investment schemes can include computer prediction (betting software) or betting syndicates. Salespeople try to convince you that their foolproof system can guarantee you a profit on sporting events like football or horseracing.

These schemes are often camouflaged as legitimate investments when they are merely just a form of gambling and, in many cases, outright scams.

They can cost over $15 000 and some also require ongoing payments. Once money has been paid, most of them do not work as promised and buyers can’t get their money back or in many cases the supplier simply disappears.

Ask yourself: If these systems produce a guaranteed, risk-free profit, why are they trying to sell the scheme to me instead of using it to make millions themselves?

Computer prediction software

Computerised gambling systems are software programs that promise to accurately predict results, usually of sporting events such as team sports, horse races or even share market movements, and promise high returns or profits.

Team sports betting programs claim to identify opportunities based on historical trends and the different odds offered by various bookmakers to provide an arbitrage opportunity where you never lose.

Scammers selling horseracing software say that predictions are based on weather conditions, the state of the horse, the draw or the condition of the jockey. They also claim to track the money that may have been placed on a race by professional betters.

Software that claims to predict share price movements are also commonly promoted by scammers. While there are legitimate software programs that track share prices, any claims of accurately predicting movements should be treated with extreme caution.

You may be promised equipment like special calculators, a program on a disk, newsletter subscriptions or entire computer systems.

Often the information used in these programs can be obtained from the betting pages of your local newspaper at very little cost.

People who have purchased computer betting software report:

  • the software does not work as promised
  • low or no returns are received 
  • the company cannot be contacted or refuses to deal with problems or inquiries.

Ask yourself: How can a machine predict a result where luck or unforeseen events are involved?

Betting syndicates

Another common approach used by scammers is to get you to become a member of a betting syndicate. Members are required to pay a fee (often in excess of $15 000) to join. They are also required to open a sports betting account and make ongoing deposits to maintain the balance.

The promoter says they will use funds in that account to place bets on behalf of the syndicate. Syndicate members are promised that they will receive a percentage of the profits.

People who invest in these syndicates often report:

  • money being withdrawn from their account with no bets being placed
  • receiving nothing in return for their investment
  • being unable to withdraw money from the syndicate
  • companies aggressively demanding more money
  • companies disappearing with all money invested.

The sales pitch

These schemes are usually promoted as business opportunities or investments at trade fairs, shows or via the internet. Promoters also use unsolicited mail, email or phone calls.

Promoters often target small business operators, professionals, retirees or others with funds to ‘invest’.

Scammers use terms like sports arbitrage, sports betting, sports wagering, sports tipping or sports trading to make these scams look like legitimate investments.

Promotional material often takes the form of glossy and sophisticated brochures or websites that contain graphs or diagrams promising large returns for little or no effort.

Promoters may also claim that their company is registered with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. Don’t let this fool you—registering a business and creating a professional-looking website are cheap and easy to do.

Warning signs

  • You are promised huge returns and risk-free profits.
  • Promoters will use financial terms like ‘trading’, ‘investment’, ‘arbitrage’, ‘recession proof’, ‘managed fund’ or ‘tax free’ to try to sell gambling schemes.
  • You are frequently called by telemarketers trying to pressure you into buying.
  • The sales pitch is accompanied by promotional material, such as glossy brochures and graphs showing extraordinary returns.
  • You are told that places are strictly limited and you need to buy now to secure your spot in the syndicate or software package or you will miss out.
  • When the system doesn’t work, you are told that you are using it incorrectly and that you are not entitled to a refund.

Protect yourself

  • Be wary of high pressure and slick sales techniques. Do not let anyone push you into making decisions about money or investments—always get independent financial advice.
  • If you receive a call from a salesperson trying to sell you a sports investment ‘opportunity’—just hang up!
  • List your numbers on the Do Not Call Register to stop calls from most telemarketers.
  • There are no guaranteed get rich quick schemes—the only winners are the scammers.
  • Don’t be enticed by reports of past performance or graphs showing high returns. Scammers lie!
  • Be wary of investments promising a high return with little or no risk. 
  • Make sure you know how to stop any subscription service you sign up to. 
  • Remember: no-one can guarantee that you will make money by gambling.

Explore SCAMwatch to find out more about scams and tips on how to protect yourself.

Do your homework


Ask yourself: Why would someone sell me a system that can guarantee them a profit if they keep it for themselves?

Be on the look out for ongoing costs. Many systems require you to open a betting or trading account and maintain a minimum balance. If the prediction you rely on is not correct, you have to keep pumping money into the account.

Be wary of high pressure and slick sales techniques. Promoters of these products are often highly skilled in closing the deal and getting you to part with your money.

Check out the registered office of the company selling the product, often these can be car parks or post office boxes and no real office exists.

If you still think that the product sounds like it could work, seek independent advice from a solicitor or financial adviser about the viability of the product and the purchase contract/terms and conditions. ‘Money-back guarantees’ may have strings attached.

Report

If you think you have been exposed to a sports investment scam, visit the report a scam page on SCAMwatch to find the most appropriate agency to contact. You can also call the ACCC Infocentre on 1300 795 995.

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What to do if you've been scammed; Scams & the law; Report a scam.

Victim story: Alan was pressured into buying software that promised him huge returns from betting on the horses. The software didn’t work and the only winner was the scammer.

Similar scams:


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

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.

High-pressure sales in high-risk investment strategies. Scammers profit through attendance fees and by selling property and investments at inflated prices.

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.

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