SCAMwatch and the Australian Crime Commission Board are urging Australians to protect themselves from the growing threat of investment scams. Investment scammers are commonly based offshore and target Australia because of high levels of superannuation and retirement savings.
How the scam works
- You receive a call, email or letter out of the blue from someone offering an investment opportunity overseas.
- The scammer applies persuasive techniques to identify your financial status and encourages you to transfer money into sham investments.
- The scammer may encourage you to check that the investment offer is legitimate. If you research the offer, the scammer may have gone to elaborate lengths to trick you including:
- manipulating search data
- creating professional looking, but fake websites and publications
- issuing online press releases that make false claims of outstanding corporate performance.
- In some instances, the scammer may even provide you with a log-in to view fake investment balances and growing returns. In reality, your money is gone.
- If you engage with the scammer, they may apply even greater pressure such as calling you multiple times a day, using tailored scripts and delivering professional looking documents via courier – all to try and get you to part with more of your money.
- The scammer will likely ask you to transfer the money electronically to an overseas-based account. It is rare to recover money sent to scammers.
SCAMwatch urges you to be on alert: These scams are incredibly sophisticated and very difficult for even experienced investors to identify.
- Visit https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/scams or call 1300 300 630 for more information. Moneysmart also has a list of companies you should not deal with - if you receive a call from a company on this list, do not deal with them.
- Watch out for scammers if you are approaching retirement and looking for investment opportunities.
- Alert your family and friends to this fraud, especially anyone who may have savings to invest.
- Report suspected fraud to the Australian Securities Investment Commission, via https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/scams or 1300 300 630, or your local police.
- Hang up on unsolicited telephone calls offering overseas investments.
- Check any company you are discussing investments with has a valid Australian Financial Services Licence at www.moneysmart.gov.au.
- Always seek independent financial advice before making an investment.
You can report suspected fraud to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, via https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/scams or 1300 300 630, or your local police. Any information that can be provided such as company name, location and contact details will assist with subsequent investigations and enquiries.
To tackle this growing threat, the Australian Crime Commission Board established a multi-agency task force that aims to disrupt fraudulent serious and organised investment scams and harden the Australian environment against this type of organised criminality. Find out more at the Australian Crime Commission website.
Stay one step ahead of scammers – follow @SCAMwatch_gov on Twitter or visit http://twitter.com/SCAMwatch_gov.