Australians are being warned as investment scams see over $205 million lost to opportunistic scammers already this year. A frightening 166% increase from the same period last year according to data from Scamwatch.
A group of well-resourced fraudsters has been reported to trick Australian families into handing over their life savings by using clever methods which make their investments appear genuine. Methods such as using legitimate business numbers confirmed by ASIC, hiring employees to respond to enquiries, and creating sophisticated website portals to transact are deceiving investors of their hard-earned dollars.
Four victims reported to news.com.au cumulatively lost $1.56 million, with some now facing financial ruin. One of the victims based in Melbourne was sadly tricked into handing over $700,000 – funds from a property sale that he and his wife were looking to put somewhere safe until they were ready to enter the property market again.
After doing some research, the man came across a website that offered government bonds. After researching the company, he verified the Australian Financial Services Licence and its Australian Company Number (ACN). All searches appeared legitimate, however in this case the scammers had stolen another company’s details. The sophisticated scam appeared real until dividends weren’t forthcoming, or began to appear from suspicious accounts. By 22nd April, a report was lodged to his bank and by 29th April, the police were notified. It was too late to recover the funds, a situation many Aussies now face.
According to some cyber security experts, the increase in investment scams has leveraged off COVID-19 where low-interest rates have made Australians seek out other investment options. The majority of losses reported in 2022 have involved crypto investments, and Australians should be wary of anyone asking them to invest in or transfer money using cryptocurrency - especially if it’s someone you have only met online.
Australian investors are encouraged to do their research to help ensure they’re not the next victim. Simple ways to help spot an investment scam include calling numbers that were sourced independently, chatting with a financial planner, and insisting on a face-to-face meeting where possible.
If you believe you may have been affected by an investment scam, please notify your financial institution as soon as possible.