Australians with money and time to burn in Covid-19 lockdown are losing money to get-rich-quick scams.
That’s the warning from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), which has reported misconduct complaints were up 20 per cent between March and May this year.
The financial uncertainty triggered by the coronavirus crisis has particularly tempted investors into cryptocurrency scams, said ASIC executive director Warren Day.
“Most crypto-asset investment opportunities reported to ASIC appear to be outright scams and there is no actual underlying investment.”
The ultra-low interest environment may also be driving everyday Australians into riskier behaviour than they otherwise would.
The corporate regulator warned Australians to watch for scams that have fake endorsements from celebrities or authorities, including ASIC itself.
Other suspicious signs include promises of high returns without mentioning risks, persistent requests for investments despite no returns, and payments requested into multiple or changing accounts.
Other scams that have spiked during the Covid-19 lockdown are fake term deposits and schemes that start on internet romance sites.
Scammers have known to befriend victims on dating sites to later offer them fraudulent investments in crypto-assets or foreign currency trading.
“Australians are at risk of being scammed and losing money, and scammers are using age-old tactics in new and sophisticated ways to target people,” said Day.
According to ASIC, victims’ money is often impossible to recover, especially when the operators are located overseas.
Any Australians who have or know of someone who has been scammed can report it to ASIC here.
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