Australian Crime Commission sends out fraud warning letter

Letter advises consumers to hang up on unsolicited phone calls and report fraudsters to ASIC

In a bid to warn Australian consumers about online and telemarketing investment fraudsters, the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) and Australia Post have begun a mass mail out to 10 million Australian households.

The letter, addressed to The Householder, warns that organised criminal groups are targeting the savings of Australians through investment frauds. It follows on from the ACC’s Serious and Organised Investment in Australia report released in July 2012 which found that criminals had conned 2600 Australians out of $113 million in the past five years through methods such as telemarketing.

“Many Australians, including experienced investors who undertake research, have lost their entire retirement savings to these investment frauds,” read the letter.

“Law enforcement advises that the criminals offering these investment opportunities use persuasive cold-calling tactics, sophisticated websites and legitimate-looking brochures.”

The letter goes on to say that if the householder is called at random by someone offering an unsolicited investment opportunity, the following steps should be taken:

  • Visit the Moneysmart website or call 1300 300 630 for further information.

  • Alert family and friends to these investment frauds, especially those who may have savings to invest.

  • Report suspected investment frauds to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission via the Moneysmart website or through state and territory police.

    “Any information that can be provided such as company name, location and contact details will assist with subsequent investigations and enquiries,” read the letter.

  • Hang up on unsolicited telephone calls offering investments.

  • Check any company you are discussing investments with has a valid Australian Financial Services licence.

  • Seek independent financial advice before making an investment.

  • Protect mail by installing the right sized letterbox for the volume of mail received and fit a lock to the letterbox to deter would-be thieves.

The New South Wales version of the letter concludes by saying that victim support is available through the NSW Fraud and Cybercrime Squad helpdesk on 02 8835 7320.

“Please be wary of anyone who claims they can recover your losses for a fee--no legitimate Australian law enforcement or regulatory agency will seek a payment for this action,” read the letter.

ACC chief executive, John Lawler, told Computerworld Australia that letter distribution has commenced in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and NSW. It is expected to continue in other states and territories over the coming weeks.

He added that while the ACC has confirmed losses of approximately $113 million as a result of investment fraud, it is believed that the extent of the problem is far greater due to under reporting.

"Many victims may not know they have been targeted by serious and organised investment fraud operations or feel embarrassed," he said.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU, or take part in the Computerworld conversation on LinkedIn: Computerworld Australia

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