Employers beware! Imposter scams are spreading fast

Expert says if it’s 'too good to be true,' then it’s likely a scam

Employers beware! Imposter scams are spreading fast

Businesses and consumers should become wary as losses to imposter bond investment scams almost tripled in the first half of 2022, with consumers losing more than $20mil to these “clever scams,” the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Scamwatch reported.

As one of the business’ defence against fraudulent attempts to penetrate the organisation, HR leaders need to know what to look out for to warn the company and its personnel adequately.

Scam damages only worsened as the latest Scamwatch data revealed that the losses suffered by Australian victims of imposter bond scam saw an alarming increase by 265% in the first half of the year, compared to the same period in 2021.

“However, the true losses to these scams are likely to be much higher, as research shows that only around 13 percent of scam victims report their losses to Scamwatch,” the government reported.

What to watch out for?

According to Scamwatch, the imposter bond scams often impersonate legit financial companies or banks and claim that they advance government/treasury bonds or fixed-term deposits.

People searching for online investment opportunities are mostly easy targets of these investment scams as they are lured to complete enquiry forms through fake third-party comparison sites, Scamwatch said.

“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,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

Then, these victims are usually instructed to share personal information and even transfer funds into specific bank accounts, which are sometimes based in Australia, according to Scamwatch.

“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,” Rickard said.

According to Scamwatch, more than half of the people who reported costs to imposter bond scams were initially contacted by phone, accounting for $11mil in losses.

“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.

What to do to avoid being a target?

Rickard warned businesses and consumers to individually verify the legitimacy of the financial company or bank issuing bonds by calling the financial or bank service directly, using the details independently sourced instead of using other phone numbers provided by the alleged institution.

“If you seem to have been dealing with someone from the institution, ask to speak to them,” Rickard reminded Australians.

“Always have an accredited financial or legal advisor check any potential investment opportunity before you send any money or provide your credit card details and only ever invest as much as you can afford to lose,” she added.

One of the most important reminders of Rickard is not to fall victim to investment opportunities that offer a high return with little to no risk, as these offers are likely to be scams.

The ACCC deputy chair also reminded the public that bonds could be accessed through the ASX. If individuals and businesses are planning to purchase such, she said they need to follow Australian Securities & Investments Commission’s (ASIC) safety advice.

“If you have reason to believe you have been scammed, contact your bank or financial institution as soon as possible as they may be able to find where the money went, block scam accounts and help others to avoid sending money to scammers,” Rickard said.

Meanwhile, if anyone has given away personal details, immediately contact Australia’s identity and cyber support service, IDCARE, according to Scamwatch.

Rickard also said that “organisations should actively monitor for, warn about and promptly seek the removal of websites impersonating their brand.”

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