The Australians Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is warning of scams targeting individuals with self-managed super funds (SMSFs).
Scammers have been cold calling or emailing individuals and urging them to transfer existing super funds to a new SMSF. Once convinced, the target will then transfer their superannuation to what they believe is a new fund, but is actually a bank account belonging to the scammer.
Victims are often encouraged to transfer funds with the promise of better returns – 8 per cent, 20 per cent, or more per annum.
The scammer will pretend to be a financial advisor and often use the information of a similar company – one holding an official Australian financial services licence – to provide a cover of legitimacy. These sharks are known to even create separate SMSF bank accounts with an investor’s name & information, using identification documents provided to create an SMSF under an account they own.
ASIC is urging Australians to be cautious and perform independent enquiries when contacted by anyone offering to move their funds.
“Always verify who you are dealing with before handing over ID, personal details or money,” ASIC warns.
“Investing in financial products always involves some level of risk, but it is also important to check that investment opportunities are legitimate before investing.”
Among the red flags pointed out by ASIC:
- websites disappearing
- websites that are copied from legitimate websites, with names lifted from the internet
- speaking to different people who happen to have the same voice
- changing email address or other contact details
It’s also important to do research on any company offering you promising investment opportunities. The Australian Government’s Moneysmart website has the following research checklist:
- ASIC’s OFFERlist database — See if the company has lodged a prospectus with ASIC.
- Publicly listed phone directories — Check whether the address and contact details are correct.
- ASIC Connect’s professional register search — Check the company has an AFS licence or Australian credit licence.
- Moneysmart’s list of companies you should not deal with — Make sure the company name is not on our list.
- International Organization of Securities Commission’s (IOSCO) investor alerts — Make sure the company is not named.
- Moneysmart’s list of fake regulators and exchanges — Check if the investment offer mentions one.