The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is warning the community to watch out for investment scammers who promise the world but leave their victims with broken dreams and empty bank accounts.
“In the first half of 2017, Australians have reported losing over $13 million to investment scams to the ACCC’s Scamwatch website, making it the most profitable of all the current scams. It is likely that losses are much higher as many victims do not report scams or contact other authorities,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.
Men are almost twice as likely to be targeted by investment scams and lose significantly more money than women. People aged 45 to 64 most commonly fall victim.
“These scams typically start with a phone call out of the blue. The scammers are sophisticated, convincing and persistent, which is why we sadly see people lose large amounts of money to them. They are also delivered through unsolicited emails, online forums and social media,” Ms Rickard said.
“Scammers use high pressure tactics to sell you a financial opportunity that is ‘not to be missed’, involves high and quick returns for low risks, and needs to be acted on quickly or you will miss out.”
“Whatever your motive is for the investments you make, do your research and never invest money with someone who has contacted you out of the blue, no matter who they say they are, how much money they promise you or the urgency with which they’re trying to make you act. They seem too good to be true because they are,” Ms Rickard said.
Common investment scams:
- Unsolicited phone calls & emails offering investment opportunities with high returns. They can involve multiple calls, with multiple people who speak in investment jargon and provide you with access to professional looking websites and documents. Your initial investment may seem to show promising results quickly but soon your money and the scammer disappear and you have lost everything.
- Unsolicited calls from scammers offering to roll your superannuation funds into a self-managed fund that will help you reduce your tax and provide great investment opportunities. In reality they are just stealing your superannuation funds.
- Binary options trading that involve predicting the movements of commodity, asset or index prices over a short time. If you agree they direct you to a website with a login, account details and a trading platform. They appear to put your money into the account and demonstrate a number of successful trades to encourage you to invest greater sums. Then your money begins to disappear and so too does the scammer.
- Hang up or hit delete on all cold calls and emails offering unsolicited advice on investing.
- Visit the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s MoneySmartwebsite to check companies you shouldn’t deal with and ASIC’s professional registers to see if someone you are dealing with has an Australian Financial Services License.
- Block the scammer on your social media accounts so they can’t contact your family and friends.
- Conduct thorough research before making any investment.
- Never commit to any investment at a seminar – always get independent financial advice.