The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is warning punters not to be horsed around by sports betting scams in the lead up to Melbourne Cup.
“Fake betting syndicates and betting software are peddled by scammers as legitimate investments, but simply do not deliver on the high returns they promise. If you sign up for one of these ‘guaranteed’ betting schemes, odds are you will never see your money again,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.
These scams start with a call, email or letter out of the blue from someone offering you the chance to invest in a sports betting syndicate or buy a betting software package. They will try to convince you that this ‘investment opportunity’ is legitimate through brochures or websites with bogus forecasts of strong profits and graphs showing high returns.
“Almost $3 million has been reported lost to sports betting scams this year, with the ACCC receiving over 800 complaints. Unfortunately, these figures are likely to rise as the spring racing carnival approaches and punters are more willing to try their luck,” Ms Rickard said.
Scammers claim that betting software is able to predict results based on track, jockey or horse conditions, the weather or the draw. Huge returns are promised based on past results and trends. Scammers sell these fraudulent systems at prices ranging from $1,000 to over $15,000. It is not long before victims realise that only the scammers are making huge returns.
“Before handing over your money, ask yourself, if someone can accurately predict gambling results, why would they need to sell it to you to make money?” Ms Rickard said.
Scammers promote their betting syndicates with promises of high accuracy and high returns. They tell victims to transfer money into a sports betting account used to place bets on behalf of the group, with participants meant to receive a percentage of the profits. Regular payments are required to top up the account but no bets are actually placed on your behalf.
“Scammers typically use high pressure sales tactics such as claiming that places are strictly limited and someone else will take your place in the syndicate if you don’t act now.”
“Remember that gambling is a game of chance – there is no such thing as a fool-proof bet. If you fall for one of these scams, it won’t be long before your money and the culprits disappear,” Ms Rickard said.
“Don’t be enticed by reports of past winners or let slick sales techniques push you into making an on-the-spot decision. Always seek independent financial advice before handing over any money.”
“If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately,” Ms Rickard said.
Further information is available on the SCAMwatch website.
You can report scams to the ACCC via the report a scam page on SCAMwatch or by calling 1300 795 995.