Australian police charge man with fraud over ‘Investment Café’ Forex scam

Maria Nikolova

‘Investment Café’ promised financial returns through investment in shares managed in a Forex trading platform.

The Queensland police have pressed fraud charges against a 38-year-old man formerly of Rockhampton, in relation with a large investment scam. In its announcement, the police said the charges were pressed following an 11-month investigation undertaken by officers from the Financial and Cyber Crime Group, Capricornia District.

Operation Papa Arches started after complaints were received regarding a business known as the “Investment Café”, which pledged financial returns through investment in shares managed in a Forex trading platform.

Police allege the Investment Café was never a registered business. Although some funds were invested, police say the offender converted in excess of $5 million of invested money for his own personal benefit. It is further alleged he used false statements to deceive investors.

In February, the 38-year-old man was located near Emerald. He was initially charged with two counts of fraud and remained in police custody. On Friday, March 9, 2018, police further charged the man with 38 fraud offences relating to the investment fraud.

The 38-year-old man is in custody and due to reappear in Rockhampton Magistrates Court on May 10, 2018.

“There are 40 victims in this fraud largely from the Capricornia area. These victims entrusted the offender with their life savings, superannuation or redundancy payments, in the belief their funds were being properly managed”, Detective Superintendent Terry Lawrence of the Financial and Cyber Crime Group said.

The latest data by Scamwatch, the body operated by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), shows that Australians reported $11,033,635 lost to various types of fraudulent schemes in February 2018, with investment scams topping the list of illicit schemes in terms of losses caused. The data shows that nearly half of all losses were due to investment scams – $5,005,307. The sum marks an increase of 8.7% from the investment fraud losses of $4.63 million reported in January 2018.

A type of investment fraud that is currently on the rise in Australia involves cryptocurrencies. Last week, Consumer Affairs Victoria, a business unit of the Department of Justice & Regulation, within the Victorian government, has voiced its concerns about Bitcoin scams.

Victoria’s consumer regulator said it had received reports of people being scammed through fake Bitcoin websites. The average amount lost is not that large – around $300, but apparently such type of fraud is worrisome.

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