Australians lost over $205 million to scams in the first four months of 2022, prompting a warning about investment opportunities that seem too good to be true. The total losses to scams between 1 January and 1 May 2022 amount to a 166% increase compared to the same period last year, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Scamwatch figures show. Of the total lost to scams, $158 million was lost to investment scams.1
Be aware of the tactics
Always be on the lookout for contact from scammers on email, phone, text message or social media. Look out for suspicious or unexpected activity across your online accounts and report anything immediately. If someone contacts you asking for access to your computer, always say no.
The ACCC warns that scammers:
- Try to gain trust by claiming to be from a well-known business or impersonating a known contact.
- Will suggest their own verification procedures, like going to websites they have created or calling numbers they provide to you.
- Know how to appeal to your emotions and press your buttons to get what they want.
- Create a sense of urgency to get you to make decisions without thinking.
Source: ACCC, Scamwatch, Spot the scam signs
Types of investment scams
The Australian Securities and Investment Commission’s MoneySmart website2 says every scam is different and can be very difficult to spot, and anyone can be scammed.
Investment scams can include:
- An investment offer that is completely fake.
- An investment exists, but the money you give the scammer doesn't go towards that investment.
- The scammer says they represent a well-known investment company, but they're lying.
In all cases, the money you “invest” goes straight into the scammer's bank account and not towards any real investment.
How to protect yourself from scams
There are warning signs you may be being scammed. Look out for whether the person offering you an investment opportunity:
- Does not have an Australian Financial Services (AFS) licence or says they don't need one.
- Calls you repeatedly, keeps you on the phone, or emails you a lot.
- Demands you make a quick decision, or you will miss out on the deal.
- Offers professional-looking prospectuses, brochures, share certificates or receipts, but their prospectus isn't registered with ASIC.
ASIC says if you spot any signs of a scam, hang up the phone or delete the email they have sent you.
We’re serious about keeping your super safe and have security in place to protect your accounts. Find out more about password security, about how you can stay safe online, and contact us if you have any concerns.
1 Media Release, 6 June 2022, Australians are losing more money to investment scams, at scamwatch.gov.au