Australia’s Scamwatch registers 161% weekly increase in losses due to investment scams

Maria Nikolova

The week to October 21, 2018, saw Australians report more than $550,000 in losses due to investment scams.

Scamwatch, the body operated by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), has earlier today released data about current and emerging scams targeting Australians, with investment fraud once again at the top of such schemes.

During the week from October 15thto October 21st, Australians reported having lost $550,908 to investments scams. The number marks a whooping 161.3% rise from the preceding week and underlines the continued threat of such scams for Australians.

The gloomy numbers add to data released by Scamwatch earlier in October, showing that, 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.

The large majority of investment scams are still focused on traditional investment markets like stocks, real estate or commodities. For example, scammers 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.

According to Scamwatch, the clearest warning sign that one may be dealing with an investment scammer is how they contact their potential victim and the promises they make. Any claims like ‘risk-free investment’, ‘low risk, high return’, ‘be a millionaire in three years’, or ‘get-rich quick’ signify that one is dealing with a scammer.

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