Australians are among the top targets for crypto and investment related scams according to news articles recently, following European authorities raiding a large scamming network across multiple countries including Serbia and Israel.
Licenced Financial Advisers are well trained in how to spot a scammer but, because we help people with their financial decisions, we’re also targets of scams trying to steal information and/or some monetary benefit.
The broader public however, are less aware that scammers will falsify a Financial Adviser’s profile to gain rapport with an unsuspecting victim; these scams are elaborate, very convincing and sadly, very costly for the victims.
They could be making suggestions about “investing” in cryptocurrency, getting you to sign up to a digital wallet or communicating with you via social media, online forums or direct messenger such as Whatsapp.
In essence, the public now have to assume they are being scammed and not engage any advice until they can prove otherwise, such as a meeting in person. Licenced financial planners have a rigid set of requirements referred to as “Know Your Customer” or KYC before being allowed to assist or advise a client.
Firstly, if scammers haven’t gone through that process, then it’s a red flag that they aren’t meeting one of the most fundamental requirements for Financial Advisers. Here’s some more detail: AUSTRAC Know Your Customer
Secondly, the reverse should apply for the public to “Know Your Financial Services Professional”. Are they even real? Can you meet them? Are they ASIC licenced? The Australian Cyber Security Centre has some detail, including how to report Cybercrime (https://www.cyber.gov.au/) but best to try and avoid the scam in the first place.
Lastly, for the record, crypto currency is not an investment; it’s an unregulated, speculative financial currency that provides easy prey to scammers. Anyone suggesting otherwise could well be a scam…