Queensland Police make another arrest related to Gold Coast ‘Cold Call Investment Fraud’

Maria Nikolova

It is alleged that the 74-year old man had obtained about $950,000 as a result of the investment fraud, with a big chunk of the money spent on a 70-foot luxury motor launch called the ‘Montage’.

The Queensland Police have been active lately in tackling investment fraud. On Tuesday, detectives from State Crime Command in Brisbane arrested a 74-year-old former Gold Coast man for fraud, money laundering and perjury related offences, with relation to his alleged involvement in a 2014/2015 Gold Coast ‘Cold Call Investment Fraud’ syndicate.

The arrest follows an investigation that started in late 2015 and initially examined the links between a member of the Gold Coast ‘Finks’ outlaw motorcycle gang who was the Director of two telemarketing and sales companies, ‘Keystone Finance Pty Ltd’ and ‘Prestige Capital Australia Pty Ltd’. That person and five other people have previously been charged in connection with the investigation.

It is alleged the man arrested on Tuesday got approximately $950,000 from the fraudulent scheme and the majority of this money was spent on lifestyle expenses and the purchase and renovation of a 70-foot luxury motor launch called the ‘Montage’. The police seized a BMW convertible vehicle during the arrest.

Tuesday’s arrest comes after in October last year, the police arrested two men, alleged to be the principals of the Keystone Finance and Prestige Capital Australia.

It is alleged that between August 2014 and December 2015 the two companies operated telemarketing call centres out of rented Surfers Paradise offices. Investors across Australia were contacted and induced into collectively transferring over $3 million to the scammers.

The companies sold membership to a managed investment trading service, with victims purchasing membership and then pumping extra funds to become participants in an “investment-related trading activity”.

Victims of the fraudulent scheme have dubbed it a type of gambling and have likened it to binary options trading.

Recent data from Scamwatch shows that Australian lost more than $13 million to investment scams in the first half of 2017. This continues a trend that was already obvious in 2016. According to ACCC’s annual report on scam activity for 2016, there was a rise of 47% in the number of scam reports in 2016 compared to 2015. Losses due to investment scams reached $23.6 million last year.

The numbers are not conclusive because many victims do not report their experiences. In 2016, the ACCC and the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) got a total of 200,103 reports about scams. Losses reported to Scamwatch, ACORN and from other scam disruption programs total approximately $300 million.

The bulk the losses due to cold calling related to offers of investment opportunities in binary options, the report said.

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