Australians lose more than $34m due to investment scams in first 9 months of 2018

Maria Nikolova

September was the month with the smallest losses due to investment fraud this year, according to data from Scamwatch.

Australians have lost more than $34.4 million since the start of 2018 as a result of investment fraud, according to the latest numbers provided by Scamwatch, the body operated by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

In the first nine months of 2018, there were 2,631 reports of investment scams submitted to ACCC, with the amount lost being the biggest for those aged between 55 and 64. July was the month with record losses, whereas September saw the smallest amount of losses being reported to the regulator since the start of this year – $1.78 million.

Source: Scamwatch.

The vast majority of investment scams are still centred on traditional investment markets like stocks, real estate or commodities. For instance, scammers will cold call victims claiming to be a stock broker or investment portfolio manager and offer a ‘hot tip’ or inside information on a stock or asset that is supposedly about to go up significantly in value. They will claim what they are offering is low-risk and will provide quick and high returns.

Two other types of investments where scams are prevalent are cryptocurrency trading and binary options. Cryptocurrency trading scams have grown significantly in the past 12 months and are now the second most common type of investment scam offer pushed on victims.

“The rise in popularity in cryptocurrency trading has not been missed by scammers who are latching onto this new trend to con people. These are similar to any other investment scam: the scammer will claim to have inside knowledge about price movements they will use to make you a fortune. If you invest, your money will quickly disappear,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

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