• New task force tackles investment scams

    In 2011, Task Force Galilee was launched by the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) board to tackle the growing threat of serious and organised fraudulent investment scams targeting the savings of Australians.

    Organised criminals, typically based offshore, are peddling fraudulent investment scams which have resulted in significant personal losses for many Australians - in some cases targeted individuals have lost their entire life savings.

    While these types of scams are not new, it is the scale of the threat that concerns law enforcement agencies. Based on initial indications, more than 2,400 Australians have lost in excess of $93 million to serious and organised fraudulent investment scams since 2007.

    The Australian economy is known to have been less affected by the global financial crisis than other nations, making those approaching retirement a particularly attractive target.

    Generally, victims are males aged over 50 years who have a high financial awareness, are well educated and have invested before. As many of the victims are embarrassed or unwilling to report their loss, the full impact is believed to be far greater than what has been reported.

    'In many cases, potential victims receive cold-calls that use cleverly tailored and scripted language to persuade and pressure people to invest money. The calls are supported by highly sophisticated websites to trick consumers into thinking investment opportunities are legitimate,' said ACC Chief Executive Officer, John Lawler APM.

    Victims are convinced to transfer significant amounts of money electronically into one or more bank accounts (often offshore). This may be followed by requests for further money transfers with the promise of either greater investment returns or implied threats of litigation for breaches of contract. Sophisticated fraudulent websites are used to demonstrate the victim's return on their investment, when in reality their money is long gone.

    Industry stakeholders play an integral part in raising awareness and communicating the threat of these serious and organised investment scams to the Australian community.

    Task Force Galilee has been engaging with a range of industry sectors, including banking, superannuation, financial advisory and community organisations, and internet service providers, to develop strategies to prevent and disrupt serious and organised fraud.

    Task Force Galilee

    Task Force Galilee was established by the ACC board and comprises law enforcement and regulatory and service delivery agencies. Membership includes ACC board agencies, as well as:

    • Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
    • Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy
    • Department of Immigration and Citizenship
    • Department of Human Services
    • Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre.

    Keeping your money safe

    Protect yourself and others against serious and organised fraudulent investment scams.

    • Alert your family and friends, especially anyone who may have savings to invest.
    • Report suspected fraud to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, via www.moneysmart.gov.au or 1300 300 630, or local police. Any information that can be provided such as company name, location and contact details will assist with subsequent investigations and enquiries.
    • Hang up on unsolicited phone calls offering investments.
    • Check any company you are discussing investments with has a valid Australian Financial Services Licence at www.moneysmart.gov.au
    • Visitwww.moneysmart.gov.au or call 1300 300 630 for further information.
      Last modified: 21 Mar 2012QC 28286