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ASIC Urges Consumers To Be Aware of Investing & Ticket Scams

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has claimed to have removed thousands of scam investment websites through a takedown blitz, while one of Australia’s big banks urges Taylor Swift fans to be prepared for ticket scams ahead of her upcoming tour.

Over 2,100 investment scam websites offering high-risk products such as crypto assets and FX derivatives have been removed since July, resulting in around 20 websites a day.

Around 60% of all scam losses involved investment scams, and included fake celebrity endorsements, such as using Andrew Forrest and David Koch. An additional $17.6 million has been provided in federal government funding for anti-fraud initiatives.

Assistant Treasurer, Stephen Jones said “Scammers are using all the tricks in the bag to con consumers – offering attractive investment returns, using fake ACNs [Australian Company Numbers] and claiming to have ASIC endorsement. It’s no surprise that even to the discerning eye these scam websites trick consumers.”

He said the government was making “some serious headway” when it came to stopping investments scams, and are working together with the National Anti-Scams Centre to help protect Australians.

“We’re beginning to see a trend of more reporting due to better awareness” as well as a decline in losses to investment scams over the last quarter. “This is a trend we’d like to see continue – but we all have to stay vigilant.”

Andrew Forrest is entangled in a criminal trial he bought against Facebook, where he alleged the company directed users to cryptocurrency scam websites which used his name to defraud victims.

He is just one high-profile Australian who has had his name and images used to endorse cryptocurrency scams on Facebook since 2019. Others include Chris Hemsworth, Waleed Aly, and David Koch.

The Andrew Forrest case is being used as a test case against Facebook that could have implications for how it handles advertising. It’s being heard in Western Australia, and will return to court later this month for a judgement.

“I’m doing this on behalf of innocent Australians who don’t have the resources to take on companies like Facebook … The same people who are being scammed and many of whom have seen me falsely featured on Facebook advertisements.”

A Facebook spokesperson said, “We don’t want ads seeking to scam people out of money or mislead people on Facebook – they violate our policies and are not good for our community.”

“We take a multifaceted approach to stop these ads, we work not just to detect and reject the ads themselves, but also block advertisers from our services and, in some cases, take court action to enforce our policies. We’re committed to keeping these people off our platform.”

NAB has also issued a warning for Taylor Swift fans to stay alert and be prepared about ticket scams across Spotify, Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace, before her ‘Eras tour’ comes to Australia in February.

NAB’s Manager for Security Advisory & Awareness, Laura Hartley, said ticket scams were becoming more complicated, and now it’s even more crucial customers can recognise red flags.

“Be extremely cautious about buying tickets online via social media. We’re hearing about criminals hacking social media profiles and selling bogus concert tickets to the account owner’s friends, who aren’t aware someone else is controlling the account.”

“Even if it’s a friend you legitimately know, pick up the phone and talk to them directly before sending money. Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve been scammed.”

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