Scam awards

The sheer stupidity of internet and financial scams would be laughable – if they weren’t so serious.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s (ASIC) annual Pie In The Sky awards act as a timely reminder that there is always someone willing to take advantage of an unfortunate event. Topping the list of disturbing scams is the Togo lawyer acting on the behalf of a deceased family who were killed in the Boxing Day Tsunami. Sent to people who coincidentally have the same name as the deceased and offering a share of US$17m from the estate, this is also known as a ‘Nigerian letter’ scam. Those targeted are asked to respond by email, claiming a share of the wealth but need to pay a fee upfront. Needless to say, once the fee is received by the “lawyer”, no money is forthcoming.

The ability to succeed in many of these scams is being able to be unabashed about what you’re doing. Instep Super, Pie In The Sky runner-up were just that. Advertising on radio, TV and online, they promised returns of between 8 and 20% on superannuation and claimed to be “the best performing superannuation fund in Australia”. Most people assume that if they hear or see an advertisement in the mainstream media then it must be by a legal company. Not so in this case. When investigated, ASIC found that Instep Super did not have the required financial license nor did they have evidence to back up their “best performing super” claim.

Don’t be fooled into thinking it could never happen to you. Financial scammers are getting more and more sophisticated, using the growth in online media to their advantage. Many financially savvy people have been stung. For the chance to win $100 for nominating a scam for the 2009 Pie In The Sky Award or to find our more about the scams going around, visit FIDO’s website.

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