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Aussie investors prime target for overseas scams

The corporate watchdog has warned investors that Australia is a prime target for scam artists, with people over 55 often most at risk. 

ASIC published a report yesterday that indicates a wide variety of scams, including investment and 'get rich quick' scams, continue to hit Aussie investors.

Overseas based scammers in particular commonly target consumers in wealthier countries such as Australia.

ASIC said that many people aged over 55 are attracted to the prospect of solid investment returns in a low interest rate environment and thus are often most at risk.

"ASIC received 367 reports about scams in 2015, although in our experience scams are often under reported. The number of Australians contacted by scammers, and the amounts of money lost, are likely to be much larger than what is reported to us,” said ASIC’s deputy chairman Peter Kell.

The top five scams of 2015 included:

– overseas cold-calling about investment opportunities;

– overseas calls offering easy credit or loans after payment of an upfront fee;

– sports arbitrage or gambling schemes;

– money transfer schemes (job opportunity or other fraud); and

– fake debt and invoice scams.

If investors receive communications that promise any of the below, they should look to alert ASIC:

– 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 any time', get a refund for non-performance or have 'guaranteed' transactions;

– inside information or the opportunity to invest before a public float; or

– “magic” software that claims to predict sporting results or promises to makes you rich through active share trading.

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