You wouldn’t hand over your money to just anyone. Of course not! The truth is though, sometimes scammers can seem legit and know just what to say and show you to break down your barriers.
Better technology means they are getting better at it and the Australians who lost a combined $23.6 million to investment scams in 2016 would testify to it1.
So how can you protect yourself from a slick scammer?
To start with, it helps to understand how you could be scammed and what type of scams there are.
According to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), there are three main types2.
1. Fictional investment offer
Much like it sounds, the scammer will try to get you to invest in something that doesn’t exist and just take your money. They try to get you in the door by making the investment sound amazing.
2. Real investment offer – but your money doesn’t go there
The scammer will contact you about a genuine investment – for example, an IPO, and offer you their own way to access it. Or offer you a limited time discount to access the investment. While it will appear like your money is going towards that investment, it’s just headed straight into the scammer’s bank account.
3. Fake claims to represent a well-known company
The scammer may just lie – or they may have a company that uses a name close to or identical to a reputable business to trick you into thinking they are one and the same. They might have slick websites and brochures too. For example, it has become fairly common to see emails claiming to be from your bank these days.
Here are some tips to ensure you don’t fall for these types of scams:
1. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
If someone is promising you large returns that you couldn’t easily earn elsewhere, think carefully – how are they actually able to generate those returns?
2. Do your research
Get on google and look up the products. Ask for their ABN and Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL) – and be concerned if they don’t have this. Check the SIC website for lists of scam companies, and also check in with scamwatch.gov.au.
3. Reputation might be worth the price
If the investment is genuine – but you’re not sure the person offering it to you is – it is worth looking at investing through companies that you know are reputable and have the correct licensing to offer you the investments.
4. Diversify and start small
Even genuine investments have risks and it’s worth spreading your money across a variety. Think the old adage about eggs in one basket – if you are going to lose money, you don’t want it to be everything.
5. Financial advice
If you aren’t sure about an investment, it might be worth speaking to your adviser and asking them for their opinion.
Think you are getting called by a scammer?
Make sure to report it so you can help prevent someone else being scammed – you should also follow this step if a scammer has taken your money. You can report scams to Scamwatch at https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/report-a-scam.
ACCC Report – Targeting Scams: Report of the ACCC on scams activity 2016, May 2017 https://www.accc.gov.au/system/files/1162%20Targeting%20Scams%202017_FA1.pdf
ASIC Moneysmart https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/scams/investment-scams
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