Up and running: Task force makes costly investment scams top priority

investment scams are on the rise

The federal government today launched the National Anti-Scam Centre (NASC) in a bid to keep Australians safe from online criminals. And the task force already has its first target lined up.

The NASC will bring together experts from the government, law enforcement agencies and the private sector. Technically, the group officially began operations on 1 July, but the program was officially launched by assistant treasurer Stephen Jones in Melbourne today.

The group will be wasting no time, naming investment scams as its first key area of focus.

“Our first priority is going to be going after the investment scams, because of the scale of it and losses are going up,” Mr Jones told ABC News.

“I think the average loss is about $80,000 for each individual incident over the last 12 months.

“There is a scamdemic. No-one is safe.”

The NASC will coordinate an investment scam ‘fusion cell’ to combat the growing investment scam problem.

A fusion cell is time-limited work group designed to bring together expertise to take timely action to address specific, urgent problems. Essentially, it’s a more specialised group within the wider NASC framework.

The NASC will coordinate a series of fusion cells with different participants to target particular scam types.

The investment scam fusion cell will be led by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and include representatives from the banks, telecommunications industry and digital platforms.

Its main aims are early intervention to disrupt investment scams including stopping scammers from reaching potential victims; removing investment scam websites from the internet; identifying intelligence to refer to law enforcement and providing timely information on new investment scams to the private sector and general public.

Catriona Lowe, ACCC deputy chair, says investment scams lead to the highest level of reported individual losses and cause some of the greatest emotional devastation for victims.

“That is why the National Anti-Scam Centre is prioritising investment scam disruption as its first fusion cell in an initiative that facilitates timely action by finance, telecommunications and digital platforms to stop scammers,” she says.

“This additional level of co-ordination and focus across government and relevant industries will target investment scam activity more effectively and help prevent further losses to these scams.”

You should be suspicious of any offer promising you easy money. Investment scams often involve guarantees of big payouts for little or no risk.

Before investing any money, ASIC says Australian investors can check its Offer Notice Board to see if a prospectus relates to a registered offer and also its register of Australian financial services licensees to make sure any part promoting or issuing the investment product is legitimate.

Have you ever fallen victim to an investment scam? Do you think you could pick a scam offer if you saw one? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: Scammers targeting you at tax time this year

Written by Brad Lockyer

Brad has deep knowledge of retirement income, including Age Pension and other government entitlements, as well as health, money and lifestyle issues facing older Australians. Keen interests in current affairs, politics, sport and entertainment. Digital media professional with more than 10 years experience in the industry.

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