Original media release from the ACCC, 03/07/2023.
The National Anti-Scam Centre will coordinate an investment scam fusion cell to combat the growing problem of investment scams, which are costing Australians more than $1 billion a year.
The fusion cell will be led by the ACCC and ASIC and include representatives from the banks, telecommunications industry and digital platforms. It will be the first fusion cell co-ordinated by the new National Anti-Scam Centre and will identify methods for disrupting investment scams to minimise scam losses.
Fusion cells are time-limited taskforces designed to bring together expertise from government and the private sector to take timely action to address specific, urgent problems. The National Anti-Scam Centre will coordinate a series of fusion cells with different participants to target particular scam types.
“Investment scams lead to the highest level of reported individual losses and cause emotional devastation for victims,” ACCC Deputy Chair Catriona Lowe says.
“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.”
“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,” Ms Lowe added.
ASIC Deputy Chair Sarah Court welcomed the announcement of the fusion cell and said ASIC looked forward to sharing its expertise in investment scams with the National Anti-Scam Centre.
“ASIC and the ACCC working together as part of the National Anti-Scam Centre’s first fusion cell is an important step towards protecting Australians from harmful investment scams,” Ms Court said.
“A collaborative approach that sees regulators working with each other, as well as with the private sector, is crucial to addressing this challenge,” she concluded.
Investment scam fusion cell aims
The investment scam fusion cell will be set up initially for 6 months, with the National Anti-Scam Centre publicly reporting outcomes. The fusion cell will aim for:
- Early intervention to disrupt investment scams including stopping scammers from reaching potential victims
- Removing investment scam websites from the internet
- Sharing information about investment scam activity to assist the private sector to take disruption action
- Providing information to the public so they can avoid investment scams
- Identifying intelligence to refer to law enforcement in Australia and overseas
- Be suspicious of anyone offering you easy money. Investment scams often involve promises of big payouts for little or no risk, quick money, or guaranteed returns. But there’s always a catch.
- For more information about reducing the risk of investment scams, visit ASIC’s Moneysmart website.
Before investing, Australian investors can make these simple practical checks to help reduce the risk of investment scams:
- check ASIC’s Offer Notice Board to see if a prospectus relates to a recent offer registered;
- check ASIC’s register of Australian financial services licensees to make sure any party promoting or issuing the financial product is licensed or is authorised by a licensee;
- check the International Organization of Securities Commission’s (IOSCO) investor alerts – make sure the company or website is not named
Where to get help
If you think you might be involved in an investment scam or have experienced cybercrime and lost money online, contact your bank immediately. You can also report to police via ReportCyber.
You can access support to recover from a scam or identity misuse from IDCARE, a national identity and cyber support service.
Australians, regardless of whether they have lost money, are encouraged to report scams to Scamwatch. Reports can be made anonymously.
For crisis support to help with emotional distress about scams contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or access support via the online chat between 7 pm and midnight. Beyond Blue also provides support for anxiety and depression 1300 22 4636 or chat online at Beyond Blue.
The National Anti-Scam Centre launched on 1 July 2023. The centre will build capability and data sharing technology over the next three years.
The technology build will ultimately enable the Centre to:
- Receive a report of a scam from any institution (private or government) and centralise this intelligence
- Distribute data to those who need it most – such as banks to freeze an account, telcos to block a call, digital platforms to take down a website or account.
- Analyse and act on the trends sourced from this data to disrupt scams and educate Australians.