ASIC flags SMSF investors in scam risk

The corporate regulator has flagged significant concerns about SMSF investors falling victim to scams, in some cases even more so than other Australian investors.

ASIC published a report yesterday that indicates a wide variety of scams, including investment and 'get rich quick' scams, continue to hit Australian investors each year.

ASIC said that many people aged over 55 are attracted to the prospect of solid investment returns in a low interest rate environment and thus are often most at risk.

Speaking to SMSF Adviser, an ASIC spokesperson said SMSF trustees in particular need to be “very aware” of the likelihood of being “taken for a ride” with scammers.

“In some ways, the threat may be even worse as there is the added pressure of needing to fund a sufficient-yielding investment strategy that can result in investor over-reach or, in this case, poor decisions caused by limited due diligence,” the spokesperson said.

“SMSF trustees need to be especially aware of this risk and their responsibility to employ the cautionary principle,” the spokesperson added.

ASIC said it received 367 reports about scams in 2015, but it believes that many scams often go unreported.

“The number of Australians contacted by scammers, and the amounts of money lost, are likely to be much larger than what is reported to us,” said ASIC’s deputy chairman Peter Kell.

The top five scams of 2015 included overseas cold-calling about investment opportunities; overseas calls offering easy credit or loans after payment of an upfront fee; sports arbitrage or gambling schemes; money transfer schemes (job opportunity or other fraud); and fake debt and invoice scams.

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