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‘A perfect storm’: ASIC delivers new investment scam warning

finance-advice
1 minute read

‘A perfect storm’: ASIC delivers new investment scam warning

by Grace Ormsby 25 June 2020 1 minute read

The corporate regulator has delivered a new caution to consumers as reports of misconduct rise 20 per cent.

new investment scam warning
new investment scam warning
by Grace Ormsby
June 25, 2020

In a statement, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s (ASIC) executive director for assessment and intelligence, Warren Day, revealed that the current economic uncertainty – thanks to COVID-19 – has created “a perfect storm”.

“Australians are at risk of being scammed and losing money, and scammers are using age-old tactics in new and sophisticated ways to target people.”

He said ASIC had recently seen “a spike in reports of scams related to fake crypto assets (or crypto currencies), term deposits, investments and scams that start via romance sites”.

Scam reports were up 20 per cent across March, April and May in 2020, compared with data from the same months in 2019.  

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ASIC is particularly concerned about the risk to consumers and investors losing money when buying into fake crypto assets.

According to Mr Day, “Most crypto asset investment opportunities reported to ASIC appear to be outright scams and there is no actual underlying investment.”

Scammers can be difficult to catch, and lost money can be tricky to recover, especially where fraudulent operators are based outside of Australia, ASIC said.

While scams “can take many forms”, the corporate regulator said many financial and investment scams do possess similar traits.

Scammers will often:

  • present a range of investment offers – from modest returns to high returns – that sound safer than they are
  • make persistent requests to continue investing despite no evidence of actual returns on initial investments
  • display fake endorsements from celebrities or government agencies, including ASIC
  • request money to be paid to a person or company into multiple or constantly changing bank accounts
  • lure someone via a romance site and direct them to send money or invest in crypto assets or forex trading.

ASIC has advised anyone who thinks that they might have been scammed, or that they know someone who has been scammed, to lodge a report of misconduct with ASIC – noting that reports from the public are highly valued.

‘A perfect storm’: ASIC delivers new investment scam warning
new investment scam warning
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