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What is an Investment scam?

An investment scam is where scammers convince you to invest in “high return” investments. The investments vary widely and may be in shares, real estate, mortgages, options or foreign currency trading, bitcoin, even betting syndicates and foolproof prediction software.
 

Online investment scams have been known to use celebrities’ names and pictures (without them knowing) to endorse their schemes.

How they contact you*

There are many ways you may be subject to an investment scam, with phone calls being most popular, but they may even do it person at a legitimate sounding investment seminar.

How they contact you* % How they contact you* %

Phone

28.1%

Mobile applications

5.9%

Email

21.7%

In person

2.7%

Internet

16.3%

Mail

1.1%

Social networking

15.5%

Not applicable

  0.8%

Text message

7.8%

Fax

  0.1%

What they're after

Investment scams are after your money. They may take your money upfront or show you good returns for a while encouraging you to invest more money before they disappear.


Signs this may be a scam

The return on an investment sounds too good to be true.
Always research before any investment, fully understand the risks. Get independent financial advice from your accountant or financial adviser.

You are told you can access your Super before you retire.
It is illegal to access your super early under normal circumstances and the taxation office can apply penalties if you do.

You are put under time pressure to invest or subscribe now.
Do not act immediately. Check financial advisors are registered via the ASIC website.

You are offered software that can predict sports, or racing events or financial markets for high returns.
Caution! No person or computer software can predict the future reliably.


Who should I contact and examples of scams.

Steve is a 65-year-old retiree who lives alone. Not long after his wife passed, he received an unexpected call about an investment opportunity. The caller sounded very professional and seemed to have excellent knowledge of investment matters. They answered all of Steve’s questions and their initial contact was followed up with a call from a ‘senior advisor’.
 

As Steve’s superannuation was not doing so well, he decided to explore this new investment opportunity. He did not think to discuss the opportunity with anyone else.
 

Over the next 12 months, Steve made a number of transfers to the 'investment professionals', initially starting with $10,000. He was referred to a very professional looking website and set up an account, which showed his money increasing in value as the market ‘went up’. Confident the system was working, he invested more money, to a total of $200,000.
 

He only realised that the investment scheme was a scam when the website went down, and he could no longer access his account or contact the offshore group by phone.
 

His money was never recovered. Unfortunately he was forced out of retirement after losing all his savings.


Latest Scams

To stay in the loop, and stay protected, check out our list of the latest phishing scams impersonating Westpac.
 

Report a scam

If you receive any suspicious calls, emails or SMS messages, or notice unusual activity on your account, it’s important that you let us know.
 

Security Wellbeing Check

To help keep you up to date with the latest security features, we’ve introduced the Security Wellbeing Check. Found in the Westpac App, it checks your Westpac settings and suggests how you can improve the security of your banking facilities.

Things you should know

* Delivery method percentages are based on the number of reports from 1 January 2020 to 31 August 2020. The data is sourced from the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) scam watch website and is based on reports provided to the ACCC by web form and over the phone.
 

** Examples are based on one or more real scam reports received by Westpac. For privacy purposes real names have not been used.