This article explains the growing rate of investment scams in Australia, and how to recover your money. Australians have lost more money to investment scammers reported to Scamwatch in the first half of this year than they did in all of 2020. By the end of the year, anticipated losses are expected to reach $140 million.
According to Scamwatch data, there has been a 53.4% increase in reports of investment frauds this year, from 3,104 in the first half of 2020 to 4,763 so far.
Scammers frequently use the information they gained from victims to perpetrate fraud or identity theft and also stealing their money.
Cryptocurrency trading scams
“Investment scams are more common than ever, and scammers are taking advantage of enthusiasm in cryptocurrencies in particular,” said Delia Rickard, deputy chair of the ACCC.
“Cryptocurrency scams were the most often reported type of investment scam. With 2,240 reports, and they also accounted for more than half of the $70 million in losses, particularly through Bitcoin.”
Scammers claim to have very successful trading techniques built on their own expertise or using algorithms they created. Numerous of these con artists also try to provide the appearance of celebrity endorsements.
Small returns derived from the initial deposits of other victims will initially be available to victims. The con artists will quickly allege withdrawal issues and break off communication.
“Be careful of investing possibilities that offer great profits at low risk. According to Ms. Rickard, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Losses from Bitcoin investment scams have risen to $25.7 million so far this year, compared to $17.8 million for the entire year of 2020, a 44 percent increase.
While traditional investment scams are still highly prevalent. Losses from other forms of investment fraud, such as Ponzi schemes, imposter bonds, and romance-baiting scams, are also increasing.
Investment scams that start on dating apps and websites are also rising in frequency. In these schemes, the con artist gets to know the victim and persuades them to invest, typically in bond or cryptocurrency schemes.
“These frauds primarily target younger people,” Ms. Rickard said. These individuals may learn about these ‘investment opportunities’ through social media, recommendations from friends, or by registering their interest in cryptocurrencies on dubious websites.
Remember, you should never send money, take investment advice from someone you don’t know or trust. Never give out personal information or credit card numbers to someone you’ve only spoken to on the phone or online.
Imposter bond scams
In impostor bond scams, con artists pretend to be reputable businesses and offer victims the chance to buy fraudulent corporate bonds.
Over 58 reports and losses totaling more than $6.8 million were made to Scamwatch in the first half of this year.
The majority of reports and losses come from older Australians trying to invest their money in reputable, well-known organizations, who account for 43% of reports and nearly half of losses.
Because scammers use the companies’ legal prospectuses, which are registered with ASIC, connect to the real websites, and contain the correct ABN/ACN details, they are extremely difficult to spot. However, the scammers alter crucial information including contact and banking details, according to Ms. Rickard.
The author continues, “That’s why it’s so vital to contact the company using information you source yourself by conducting a search online or going directly to the company’s website, and to get independent advice regardless of how sure you feel.”
Ponzi schemes have grown in popularity. Scamwatch received nearly 400 reports in the first half of this year, and the Hope Business and Wonderful World scams cost victims more than $1 million.
These frauds advertised on social media platforms and offered their programs through legitimate app stores. Before the con artists cut off touch, people invested their money and were able to make modest withdrawals in the beginning.
The ACCC demanded the removal of the Hope business app by contacting the Google and Apple app stores. Additionally, the primary Wonderful World hoax app was taken down from app stores.
Members of CALD communities, notably recent immigrants from Burma and Sri Lanka, were disproportionately harmed by these scams.
More over 13% ($9.6 million) of all losses from investment scams came from persons for whom English was a second language.
Before making any investments, the ACCC advises everyone to get independent advice from a licensed financial counselor.
Information on various investment options and how to recognize investment Scams can be found on the MoneySmart website, which is managed by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).
What to do if you suspect that you have been scammed
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