Losses to imposter bond investment scams have nearly tripled in the first half of this year with consumers losing over $20 million to these sophisticated scams.
Imposter bond scams usually impersonate real financial companies or banks and claim to offer government/Treasury bonds or fixed term deposits.
People often fall victim to them after searching online for investment opportunities and completing enquiry forms via fake third-party comparison sites.
The latest Scamwatch data reveals there were 228 reports of imposter bond scams between January and June, compared with 82 reports in the first half of last year.
Losses suffered by Australian victims of imposter bond scams increased by 265 per cent in the first half of the year, compared to the same period last year. However, the true losses to these scams are likely to be much higher, as research shows that only around 13 per cent of scam victims report their losses to Scamwatch.
“We are seeing an alarming increase in imposter bond scams, so we are urging Australians to be very cautious when presented with investment opportunities,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia 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.”
“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 said.
“Convinced they are making a long-term, legitimate investment, it’s common for victims to deposit larger sums upfront and not check their account for months before realising they were scammed.”
More than half of those who reported losses to imposter bond scams were first contacted by phone, accounting for $11 million in losses.