Property investors can be easy targets for scammers – so it's important to know a scam when you see one, and how to avoid being the victim.
Blogger: Robert Stevens, co-director, Allied Investment Group
Sadly, there are scammers who target Australians by trying to steal money from their super. The scammers often gain access to the super by promising to help set up SMSF property investments. There are three common SMSF property scams I will outline below:
1. The investment seminar
According to the government regulator, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission, many seminars have a sting in the tail. You may have received a letter to attend a seminar or you might have seen an advertisement online or in a newspaper. Free tickets to see motivational speakers or an investment “expert” are often used to promote these events. Seminar promoters make their money by charging you a ticket fee to attend or by selling books, education services or expensive reports. They might even make misleading or deceptive claims or try to pressure you into signing up for an investment on the night.
2. Early release of your super
The promoters of these schemes offer easy and early access to your super, often through the use of your SMSF or for a fee. Here’s the truth: there is no easy way to access your super until you reach your preservation age, which can range from 55 to 60 years old, depending on your year of birth. Of course, there are exceptions around financial hardship, but the restrictions, rules, and regulations to get access to the money are extraordinary. Your super is for your retirement years, not now.
3. Cold calling
You receive a call you didn’t expect. The person making the call is offering you investments with high returns, possibly located overseas. You might be offered free financial advice. Common investments touted are cheap or foreclosed property deals in the United States, or properties in exotic locations such as Bali. The caller might recommend using your super to engage in high-risk investments such as foreign currency trading (FOREX), options trading or dubious stocks.
Remember: if anyone recommends any investment product or products, they must be licensed and provide a written Statement of Advice (SOA).
Warning signs of a potential scam
6 ways to protect yourself and your super