You’ve been scammed

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Building your dream -

If you are over 50, male, highly ed­u­cated, fi­nan­cially lit­er­ate and man­age your own su­per, be­ware.

You are at a higher risk of be­ing the tar­get – and vic­tim – of or­gan­ised in­vest­ment fraud.

This isn’t nec­es­sar­ily be­cause your de­mo­graphic is par­tic­u­larly gullible.

Rather, it’s be­cause you’re more likely to con­trol higher lev­els of wealth, per­haps as the trustee of a self-man­aged su­per fund, SMSF, you’re ac­cus­tomed to mak­ing fi­nan­cial de­ci­sions, and you’re ac­tively look­ing for at­trac­tive in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties.

What scam­mer wouldn’t want tar­get you?

Golden op­por­tu­nity

to

One clear warn­ing of a scam is an un­so­licited ap­proach. Some­one con­tacts you, usu­ally by phone or email, of­fer­ing an in­vest­ment that is ‘both safe and de­liv­er­ing high re­turns’. This per­son will of­ten know a lot about you, recit­ing ac­cu­rate per­sonal de­tails they claim you pro­vided in a ques­tion­naire you com­pleted ear­lier.

Their story is sup­ported by an ap­par­ently au­then­tic web­site and, en­ticed by the at­trac­tive re­turns and smooth sales talk, you make an ini­tial in­vest­ment.

At the be­gin­ning you re­ceive state­ments show­ing your in­vest­ment is grow­ing steadily prompt­ing you to add fur­ther funds. Then things go silent. Their phone num­ber is dis­con­nected, emails bounce and the web­site dis­ap­pears, along with any hope of re­cov­er­ing your money.

Your stom­ach lurches. A cold sweat sat­u­rates you. You’ve been scammed.

Won­der­ful as mod­ern tech­nol­ogy is, it makes it eas­ier for fraud­sters to ap­pear le­git­i­mate and trans­fer money in an in­stant.

They close down one oper­a­tion and set up an­other with ease. It doesn’t help that we give away much of our per­sonal in­for­ma­tion, and what isn’t avail­able for free can of­ten be pur­chased by crim­i­nals.

Early ac­cess

The other ma­jor scam that lures many who need money quickly is the prom­ise of early ac­cess to su­per­an­nu­a­tion.

This is how it works: Bob’s su­per­an­nu­a­tion is just sit­ting there, the so­lu­tion to his fi­nan­cial prob­lems if only he could ac­cess it.

He searches the in­ter­net for op­tions and an ad­ver­tise­ment promis­ing early ac­cess to su­per pops up.

This puts Bob in touch with a ‘spe­cial­ist’ who helps him set up a SMSF, telling him that as the fund trustee he will be able to get hold of his su­per money.

Bob signs the pa­per­work to set up the fund and rollover his su­per, but the money doesn’t turn up where it should. Even­tu­ally Bob dis­cov­ers that his re­tire­ment sav­ings were trans­ferred to a bank ac­count con­trolled by the scam­mer, then moved overseas.

Not only has he lost the lot, Bob now faces a big tax bill for ac­cess­ing his su­per pre­ma­turely.

The scam­mers didn’t tell him that early ac­cess to su­per is only avail­able un­der spe­cial cir­cum­stances.

Pro­tec­tion

A few sim­ple pre­cau­tions can help pro­tect your su­per – and other sav­ings – from scam­mers.

• Hang up on un­so­licited phone calls and delete sus­pi­cious emails.

• Take care when shar­ing per­sonal in­for­ma­tion.

• Visit scamwatch.gov.au for up­dates on scams that are do­ing the rounds.

• If you sus­pect a scam re­port it to Scamwatch, even if you haven’t lost any money.

If you need ad­vice about your su­per, seek ad­vice from a li­censed fi­nan­cial ad­viser.

Le­git­i­mate ad­vis­ers and in­vest­ment man­agers ap­pear on ASIC’S list of Aus­tralian Fi­nan­cial Ser­vice Li­cence hold­ers.

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