Too good to be true? See through investment scams ⚠️🛑
The Australian Cyber Security Centre Targeting Scams Report (April 2023) found that investment scams cost Australians $1.5 billion last year. They’re increasingly sophisticated and can take many forms. Learning how to identify an investment scam will help safegaurd your money and future goals.
NAB Chief Security Officer, Sandro Bucchianeri says that “investment scams are extremely profitable for cyber criminals. At NAB, we always attempt to recover funds where possible. However, this can be difficult due to the speed at which these criminals move. That’s why it’s critical to be educated and aware so you can see through scams”.
How to spot the signs
It sounds too good to be true
Investment scams typically promise quick, high returns and minimal risks, often involving shares, foreign currency trading, treasury bonds, term deposits, cryptocurrencies or real-estate schemes.
Never take investment advice from someone you’ve never met who contacts you unexpectedly, especially through social media, dating apps or a phone call.
Alternative payment methods
You may be asked to make payment using cryptocurrencies, gift cards or Western Union money transfers.
Remote access requests
Gaining remote access to your device to set up a ‘trading platform’ is often a way for a criminal to load malicious software onto them. Also, investment apps you’re asked to download are probably fake.
Requests for your Internet Banking log in details
Never prodive these details to a third party.
Checklist: Before you invest
Even if an investment opportunity comes via a friend or family member, always do your research, as you don’t know what research they’ve done.
- Does the person providing advice have an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL) or Australian Credit Licence (ACL) from the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC)? Check whether ASIC has a record of the copmany and investment prospectus being registered with them.
- Search for the person’s name on the Financial Advisers Register at moneysmart.gov.au.
- Contact the company directly through their official website, as criminals often impersonate legitimate companies and employees.
- Make sure the email address you are given match that of the registered company. Look out for slight differences, such as the number ‘1’ instead of the letter ‘i’, as these can be hard to spot if you’re not looking – but will be an automatic red flag if spotted.
- Check with a friend or family member for a second opinion.
Think you’ve been scammed?
There’s often a stigma that comes with being impacted by a scam, but there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Know that you are not alone and you can recover from this. Hundreds of thousands of Australians are scammed out of their money or personal information every year. There is support available, if and when you need it. If you think you’ve been scammed these steps will help you take action quickly to stop the scammers and limit the damage.
Act fast if you’ve been scammed
If you’ve been scammed, follow these steps to take action.
- Don’t send any more money. Block all contact from the scammer.
- Contact your bank or financial institution immediately to report the scam. Ask them to stop any transactions.
- Warn your family and friends about the scam, so they can watch out for potential follow up scams.
If you’ve paid a scammer
If you’ve paid a scammer in any of these ways, here’s what to do:
- Credit/debit card – Contact your bank or card provider immediately to report the scam. Ask them to stop any transactions.
- Gift card – Report it to the company who issued the card.
- Wire transfer – Report it to the wire transfer company or bank that you used.
- Money transfer app – Report it to the app provider (the seller or developer, not the app store).
- Crypto – Report it to the platform or company you used to send the money. Cryptocurrency may not be recoverable.
- Cash – If you sent by mail or delivery service, contact Australia Post or the delivery service used to see if they can intercept the package.
- Unauthorised transfer – If a scammer has transferred money without your approval, report it to your bank straight away. Ask them to freeze your accounts and transactions.
If a scammer has your personal information
For example, if your personal details (like name, phone, email, address, identity documents) have been leaked in a data breach. Here’s what to do:
- Report the data breach to your financial institutions – Let your bank, super fund and any other financial services know.
- Contact IDCARE – Call 1800 595 160 (Monday to Friday, 8am–5pm). They can help you make a plan (for free) to limit the damage.
- Create a new, stronger password – Make sure you haven’t used it before. If you’ve used the leaked password anywhere else, update it there too.
- Watch out for suspicious contact – Look for suspicious emails, phone calls, texts or messages through social media. Block or don’t answer anyone you don’t know. Don’t click on any links.
- Monitor your bank account – Keep a close watch on your bank account for any unauthorised transactions.
- Monitor your credit report – Request a temporary ban on your credit report to ensure no unauthorised loans or credit applications can be made.
For more tips, see identity theft.
If a scammer has accessed your computer or phone
A scammer pretends to be from your internet or phone provider. They say you have a technical problem and ask for access to your device. Then they infect it with a virus, to steal your passwords and financial information. Here’s what to do:
- If they accessed your computer – Update your security software and run a scan for viruses. Delete anything identified as a problem and reset your passwords.
- If they accessed your phone or phone account – Report it to your phone provider. Update your security software and run a scan for viruses. Change your passwords or pins, block scam calls and consider changing your phone number.
You could also get an IT professional to check your devices in-person.
Watch out for follow up scams
If you’ve been caught up in a scam, you may be targeted in a follow-up scam. Hang up the call, or block emails or text messages, if someone:
- offers to swap your investment for another one to recover your losses
- tells you to ‘hang in there’ as your investment will increase in value soon
- offers to buy your shares at a premium but asks you to pay a fee to have ‘restrictions’ on the shares lifted
- asks you to pay a fee for a fake share certificate
- claims they can recover your losses for a percentage of the recovered losses or for a fee they say is a ‘tax’, ‘deposit’, ‘retainer’ or ‘refundable insurance bond’
- asks you to pay for travel and accommodation costs to find the scammer who has taken your money
These are all tricks scammers use to get more money from you.
Read more articles on scams
To ensure you are up to speed on how best to identify other email or SMS scams, read our articles below:
- PayID scam targets Australians selling items on popular online marketplaces
- Investment scams most successful with people aged 55 to 64
- How to check suspicious email links on your mobile or tablet
- Tricks to help you identify potential email scam attacks
- 8 tips to avoid falling victim to cybercrime
- Australia’s 3 biggest cyber threats that target over 60s
- The 3 most common types of investment scams
- Aussies over 65 become the largest group of victims being scammed