Scammers use fake ‘Twiggy Forrest’ investment to fleece woman out of $670,000

Scammers promoting a fake investment scheme using an image of mining entrepreneur Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest have claimed a Bunbury woman as a victim who is reporting a total loss of $670,000.

The woman found the investment scheme being promoted on Facebook and LinkedIn in March 2019 and said she has since made six payments to bank accounts in Australia and Germany as well as a credit card account.

The online trading platform made the woman feel secure about investing by depositing a total of $58,500 in six payments into her bank account when she asked to withdraw some funds from her trading account. The scammers also sent her a Louis Vuitton bag valued at $2,700 as a birthday present.

Since 1 July 2019, 15 victims of investment scams have reported to WA ScamNet losing a total of almost $2.7 million. Last financial year, 63 WA victims reported losing a total of $5.9 million.

Commissioner for Consumer Protection Penny Lipscombe said it’s becoming increasingly popular for fraudsters to use images of celebrities and trusted people in our community to make their scams look legitimate.

“In this case the bogus investment scheme used Andrew Forrest’s image and provided links to false news reports of him endorsing the scheme, making the offer look authentic and convincing,” Ms Lipscombe said.

“There are also cases where legitimate investment companies are having their corporate identities and brands stolen to be used in fake websites, advertisements and social media pages.

“When considering an investment, make sure the company or broker is the real deal by checking their registrations online and be suspicious of any unsolicited offers you might receive either by phone, email or via social media.

“ASIC registers investment companies and agents in Australia and regulates the industry here, so do a check on their website to begin with. If the company claims to be overseas, there are usually government regulators in other countries that also have online registers that you can search.”

Tips to avoid investment scams

  • Don’t respond to emails and phone calls from strangers offering predictions on shares, investment tips or investment advice.
  • Be suspicious of offers to sell you shares, cryptocurrency or a chance to take part in Binary Options Trading, especially if the ‘company’ is based overseas.
  • Do your own research before you invest and do not invest what you cannot afford to lose.
  • If someone’s telling you about a way to make easy, fast money and putting significant pressure on you to invest big with a promise of high returns, ask yourself “is it too good to be true?” and discuss it with someone you trust.
  • Carry out thorough research before investing money and get independent financial advice from a licensed financial advisor – see ASIC’s Financial Advisers Register.
  • Check ASIC’s MoneySmart website to see a list of companies you should not deal with.

You can get help to verify investment offers and report investment scams by contacting WA ScamNet on 1300 30 40 54.

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