Reports of investment scams have doubled in 2015: ACCC
Scams from overseas are becoming more common.
Australian consumers and investors are being targeted by overseas scammers, with reports of investment scams doubling in 2015.
Financial loss due to fraudulent investment schemes doubled to over $24 million with 1,262 complaints received over the last year, according to a report by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC),
The Targeting Scams report released today highlights the financial loss of Australians due to scams in a number of categories including investment scams, dating and romance scams, inheritance scams and ID theft.
In 2015, investment scams overtook dating and romance scams as the category with the most financial loss. The report shows financial loss almost doubled in this category from $12,462,624 in 2014 to $24,447,716 in 2015.
Australian Security and Investment Commissions (ASIC) deputy chairman Peter Kell said when it comes to overseas investments and other "get rich quick" scams, older Australians are most at risk.
"Overseas based scammers in particular commonly target consumers in wealthier countries such as Australia," he said. "People over 55, many of whom are looking for investment returns in a low interest rate environment, are often most at risk."
The report shows over 40% of complaints to Scamwatch and Australian Cybercrime Reporting Network (ACCORN) were made by Australians over 55 years old.
Kell also highlighted that modern scams can be “slick and believable” making it increasingly difficult to differentiate between genuine and fraudulent opportunities.
Do not send your money overseas for an investment offer that has come out of the blue. It's as simple as that,” he said.
Key indicators of fraudulent opportunities highlighted by ASIC includes:
- When scam offers claim offer high, quick and sometimes tax-free benefits
- When claims of big rewards are made but you’re only required to make a small upfront payment
- When there are discounts offered for early-bird investors
- Watch out for phrases like ‘no risk, ‘low risk’, ‘you can sell anytime’ or ‘guaranteed transactions’
- Where offers provide inside information upfront or the opportunity to invest before a public float
- When offers refer to ‘magic’ software that predict results
Before committing to any financial investment:
- Do not rush the decision to invest
- Check ASIC’s MoneySmart list of unlicenced companies
- Check the company’s listing on the stock exchange to review the company’s performance and history
- Call any public-listed number to verify
- Seek a financial adviser