Serious and Organised Investment Fraud
Monday, 9 July 2012 - 12:31pm
Organised crime groups are targeting the retirement savings of elderly Australians with sophisticated fraud operations.
Typically based overseas, the fraudsters are attracted to Australia’s large and growing pool of superannuation which currently stands at more than $1.3 trillion.
The criminals usually initiate contact over the phone before using an array of persuasive techniques to build trust with victims before enticing them to transfer funds into bogus investments offshore. These techniques include slick websites and brochures, professional-looking media releases and even personal accounts with logins that show strong returns on investment over a period of time.
Both experienced and inexperienced investors are being targeted. Authorities confirm that more than 2,600 mainly elderly Australians have fallen victim to the fraud (as at June 2012). The average individual loss is $42,348, with losses ranging from $35,000 to $4 million.
Reported victims include some 880 registered Australian companies and 51 self-managed superannuation funds.
To combat the growing threat from this fraud, the Australian Crime Commission Board has established a high-level taskforce involving key Government agencies and police bodies.
To date, confirmed losses nationally stand at $113 million. However, it is believed the extent of the fraud is greater because of the high proportion of victims who are unwilling or too embarrassed to report their loss. Some of the victims have only come to the attention of police after investigation linked their bank transactions with fraud operations.
While anyone with savings to invest is at risk, many victims include financially-literate males over 50 years-old who have invested previously. It is understood that the criminals actively target these individuals, particularly those who are socially isolated and thought more receptive to ongoing phone contact.
For more information, visit www.moneysmart.gov.au or call 1300 300 630.
Protect yourself against investment fraud
- Visit www.moneysmart.gov.auor call 1300 300 630 for further information.
- Alert your family and friends to this fraud, especially anyone who may have savings to invest.
- Report suspected fraud to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission by visiting www.moneysmart.gov.au, calling 1300 300 630, or speak to your local police. Any information such as company name, location and contact details will assist with subsequent investigations.
- 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.