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Investor bond scams surge during first half of 2022

Scams involving investor bonds tripled during the first six months of the year, with rising interest rates tipped as one explanation.

The data, which is included in the ACCC’s Scamwatch’s latest figures, reported that there was almost $295.2 million lost to scams between January and June this year. 

The bulk of this was investment scams, which reportedly cost victims a sum of roughly $219.5 million over the period. 

By comparison, the second-most common scam was almost 93 per cent smaller at just over $16.4 million. 

Of these investment scams, imposter bond scams were reported as increasing significantly over the first half of 2022, with Scamwatch’s data pointing to a loss of over $20 million for affected victims.

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Imposter bond scams typically impersonate real financial companies or banks and claim to offer government bonds or fixed-term deposits. 

According to Scamwatch’s figures, this cost is a 265 per cent increase compared to what was reported during the first half of 2021. 

More than half were said to be contacted by phone, resulting in loss of around $11 million. 

Further, there were 228 reports of imposter bond scams between January and June this year. 

Over the same period in 2021, this figure was 82. 

Scamwatch has said that it anticipates this figure to be higher, with internal data reporting that only roughly 13 per cent of scam victims report their losses to the body.  

Speaking of the statistics, ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard urged more Australians to be cautious around investor opportunities. 

Ms Rickard said as interest rates rise, people looking to invest in bonds are “falling victim to these scams after searching online for investment opportunities”.

“This is often after they complete enquiry forms on fake third-party comparison websites,” she explained. 

“These comparison sites can appear very convincing, and people are providing their details under the impression that these are legitimate Australian sites comparing real financial services.”

Ms Rickard later added that it’s “critical to independently verify the financial institution or bank issuing the bonds by calling the bank or financial service directly, using details you have sourced yourself”, rather than utilising provided links or phone numbers. 

“Always have an accredited financial or legal advisor check any potential investment opportunity before you send any money or provide your credit card details and only ever invest as much as you can afford to lose,” Ms Rickard said.

The deputy chair later noted that investment opportunities that promise a high return with little to no risk “are likely to be a scam”. 

Ms Rickard concluded by noting that organisations “should actively monitor for, warn about and promptly seek the removal of websites impersonating their brand”.

In June, AFCA reported that there had been a spike in complaints around crypto-asset scams and other investment scams.

[Related: Settlement scam claims $732k from WA victim]

Investor bond scams surge during first half of 2022
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