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Overseas Investment Schemes and Scams Are On the Rise

31 August 2016

Online investment and share-trading scams cost Australians $41m in 2015. Even many legitimate brokers are not financially licenced in Australia and therefore pose a higher risk than normal for investments. From share trading, to property, to business ventures – overseas investment brokers may not be worth the risk.
Investment schemes and scams of this nature can be as addictive as gambling – and can end up being just as costly. Online share-trading products in particular are often bogus, yet many people with no financial management background continue to subscribe to these. Of particular concern are the ‘binary broker’ trading solutions, which are aggressively marketed under many different names (Top Ten Binary Brokers websites have been identified by ASIC as being particularly high-risk).

Tell-tale signs of bogus online investment products:

• Googling the product brings up many unanimously positive reviews – online investment scams commonly employ a technique of populating the internet with large amounts of (fake) positive feedback. Try searching from established investment advice sites instead.
• Glowing product reviews containing advertising, special offers, and purchase links for the product itself. These are puff-pieces, not reviews, and are all part of the scam.
• An “are you sure you want to leave this page?” message when you try to close the tab of a review page. This will usually include a reminder about the product being a ‘limited offer’.

Typically, investment and financial scams will offer:
• High, quick returns and sometimes tax-free benefits.
• Big rewards for what seems a small upfront payment.
• Discounts for early bird investors.
• ‘No risk’ or ‘low risk’ investments, where ‘you can sell anytime’, get a refund for non-performance or have ‘guaranteed’ transactions.
• Inside information or the opportunity to invest before a public float.
• ‘Magic’ software that claims to predict sporting results or promises to makes you rich through active share trading.
Always remember: If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.

What to do if you are concerned:
If you willingly enter into an investment we are unlikely to be able to recover any lost funds for you, regardless of the outcome or whether the investment was a scam. If you believe you may have entered into a scam, contact us as soon as you can so we can help minimise your losses. You can learn more about investment scams from ASIC’s MoneySmart or ACCC’s ScamWatch.
• Call our financial planners on (08) 8208 5700 (SA) or (08) 8919 2100 (NT) for advice on wealth management.
• Call our friendly Contact Centre on 1300 131 844 for help protecting your account.

Don’t risk your capital on promises of easy returns – get sound financial advice from an Australian-licenced broker, not a web page.