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Phishing scams that pretend to be very reputable companies - BEWARE!!

Sophisticated fraudsters are targeting Australian investors with investment 'phishing' scams. Find out what to watch out for so you can avoid being caught up in one.

     

We recently drew attention to a new type of scam where sophisticated fraudsters, pretending to work for real companies, are targeting Australian investors with fake investment products.

Our Smart Investing article followed a warning in late January from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) about the rise of "imposter bond" investment offers that claim to deliver secure, high-yield returns.

The fraudsters have designed professional looking fake websites using real company logos, to capture personal information such as phone, email and bank details.

They then make contact directly and offer to email a fake investment prospectus document in order to trick people into investing their money.

Vanguard branded phishing scam

Phishing is the term used to describe fraudulent attempts to illegally obtain sensitive information or data, usually via fake websites or emails.

Vanguard has now become aware of a phishing campaign being operated through a fraudulent comparison website that's targeting people online. The website includes a fake investment offer from Vanguard.

People providing personal contact information are then being phoned, with the caller offering to email a pretend Vanguard prospectus.

We're alerting people to this scam via our websites and investor portal, through our phone support, and advising anyone impacted on steps to take if you've shared any personal information.

Vanguard's IT security systems have not been compromised in any way by this issue and our priority is to warn investors of the scam and assist those who have been impacted.

If you suspect you've transferred any money to a third party in relation to this scam you should immediately contact police, and contact your bank to stop direct debit transactions if you've shared any banking details.

It's also important to alert major credit bureaus such as Equifax and Experian to place a block on your credit profile to stop others from opening accounts using your personal information.

Our teams are working closely with authorities and industry partners to identify and remove the bogus website and to provide information from official sources, such as the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission's ScamWatch, on how to stay safe online.

What to watch out for

Some of the common tactics being used by the "imposter bond" scammers include:

  • Using the contact details gathered online through fake investment comparison websites to call people and pressure them to invest or risk missing out.
  • Sending professional looking fake prospectuses with unrealistically high returns.
  • Falsely stating the bonds are issued by prominent financial services firms when this is not true and there is no underlying investment.
  • Falsely claiming investor funds will be pooled to invest in government bonds or the bonds of companies with AAA credit ratings.
  • Falsely claiming the purchase price of the bonds is protected under the Commonwealth Government's Financial Claims Scheme.

How to avoid investment scams

As noted in our previous article, just taking a few basic precautions will go a long way to ensuring you don't get caught up in a scam.

Ignore all unsolicited approaches to invest in a financial product, even if they come via people pretending to be from a well-known company or a government authority.

Keep in mind that Vanguard never sends email or text messages with clickable links asking you to verify or provide personal information such as your account or login details.

There are many ways to greatly reduce your chances of ever being tempted into a scam.

  • Ensure any promotional investment emails you receive, even from companies you already invest with, are legitimate.
  • If in any doubt over a company's bona fides, check that its website is displaying a genuine Australian Business Number and an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL) number. These details can be checked directly using ASIC's online search registers.
  • Don't ever click on links or open attachments in emails unless you are completely certain of the authenticity of the sender.
  • You can easily verify website addresses by searching a company (without clicking on an email link), and by checking contact details through legitimate online information sources.
  • Never respond to messages, calls or emails that ask for any personal information or financial details. ASIC advises people to just hang up on callers attempting to interest you in investments, and to delete any suspicious emails.
  • Types of approaches can be investment cold calls from bogus portfolio managers or real estate agents pretending to promote share investments or property schemes, or to offer financial advice.
  • Don't fall for approaches to investment seminars designed to promote "exclusive" opportunities offering high returns. These can be straight scams, or involve very high-risk investment products or schemes.
  • Be on the alert for superannuation scams offering to give you early access to your super funds. Accessing superannuation is subject to strict conditions governed by federal legislation.
  • Lastly, if an investment offer sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't legitimate.

The ScamWatch website should be your first port of call to check out everything to do with investment scams, including news and alerts of current activities.

Also check ASIC's extensive Moneysmart list of companies you should not deal with.

 

 

By Tony Kaye, Senior Personal Finance Writer, Vanguard Australia
16 Mar, 2021
vanguard.com.au

 

 


David Forrest Download David's Adviser Profile

David Forrest

Director
BEc (Acc), MBA, CPA, FFin

David has been in the Financial Services Industry for nearly 30 years. He was one of the founding Directors of the successful Financial Planning and Stockbroking Practice, Henderson Gregory Forrest, for a decade. Prior to that, he held senior roles in companies such as ING, KPMG Accountants and AMP. David was previously Chairman of OAMPS Superannuation Trustee Board and currently serves as an independent Board Director for several companies.

David’s extensive experience in all forms of superannuation, including Self Managed Super Funds (SMSF), Defined Benefit Funds, retirement funding through Account Based Pensions, stockbroking with a focus on Direct Share Investment, Taxation/Remuneration Planning, Centrelink, Aged Care and business management, equip him to advise expertly on all aspects of Financial Advice.

Those with a particular interest in superannuation/SMSFs, direct share investment, salary packaging or applying for the Centrelink Pension will find his knowledge and ability in formulating and implementing creative, logical and simple wealth creation strategies a valuable asset.

David maintains a strong personalised client service focus, providing tailored solutions for clients.

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David Forrest is an Authorised Representative of Integrity Financial (SA) Pty Ltd ABN 16 133 921 187 — AFSL No 334846

Michelle Forrest

Michelle Forrest

Business Finance Manager
B Bus (Acc), CPA

Michelle’s career has spanned across the Financial Services, Retirement Living and Aged Care industries working in the private sector, not for profit and more recently with the state government for over 20 years. Her experience extends to many facets of the financial services industry, having worked in superannuation administration, technical support and financial planning practice administration.

Commencing with AMP and subsequently working in commerce and accounting roles with companies such as Brambles, Adelaide Bank Retirement Services, ECH Inc and SA Health and Wellbeing, Michelle returns to financial services after working in practice financial management at Henderson Gregory Forrest. This wide range of experience from senior accounting and management roles has provided Michelle with a strong background in business administration.

With an astute financial acumen and keen interest in business improvement strategies, Michelle ensures the smooth running of the Integrity Financial Advisory practice providing valued management support to our personalised client service focus.

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Darren Chalk Download Darren's Adviser Profile

Darren Chalk

Financial Adviser
B Com, Dip FP

Darren joins the Integrity team as a strong technical specialist with almost 20 years’ in the Financial Services industry. He has extensive experience advising clients on how to build and protect wealth, prepare for retirement and retire comfortably.

Commencing with advising clients on direct equities for over 10 years at Baker Young, Tolhurst Noall, and ABN AMRO Morgans, his career expanded to providing holistic client advice, having operated his own financial services licence and company. Most recently having worked for a 'Big 4' bank, he has welcomed the more personalised ‘client first’ approach that is evident at Integrity Financial Advisory.

With a deep understanding of investment markets, he is appropriately qualified and authorised to provide direct share advice, as well as superannuation/SMSF advice, encompassing both investments and insurance.

Meticulous in his approach, he aims to deliver quality outcomes for clients by understanding their financial situation and needs before providing advice which is central to our advice process. Darren supports David in tailoring solutions for all client financial advice needs.

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Darren Chalk is an Authorised Representative of Integrity Financial (SA) Pty Ltd ABN 16 133 921 187 — AFSL No 334846

Natasha Bartlett

Natasha Bartlett

Client Service Manager

Natasha commenced working in the financial services industry in June 2008 and is a new addition to the Integrity team. During the past 11 years, she worked closely with advisers providing administration support in a share broking and financial advice business.

Having successfully completed her RG146 accreditation in securities and managed investments and continued her studies to complete her competency in Superannuation, Natasha can ably assist with all aspects of fixed interest, cash management, portfolio administration, direct shares and client advice implementation.

Natasha takes time to ensure she understands our client’s financial goals and needs and believes in creating, preserving and utilising wealth through effective financial management as a key objective in helping clients.

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Kelly Collins

Kelly Collins

Client Service Manager

Kelly has worked in the Financial Services Industry for over 10 years and has supported David since 2013. Kelly’s primary background is in customer service and administration.

On starting in the industry, Kelly initially focused on direct shares, stockbroking administration and client liaison. Since moving to the Client Service Manager role, Kelly has developed skills encompassing all aspects of financial planning including client advice implementation and term deposit management.

Kelly’s experience in the direct share environment, especially management of estates, provides a key part of the direct equity expertise in Integrity’s Client Service Team.

Returning from Parental Leave following the arrival of her second child, Kelly has developed further honed multi-tasking skills after juggling the demands of a growing family.

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Jasmine Smith

Jasmine Smith

Client Service Manager

Jasmine has worked in the financial services industry for over 12 years in all areas of client administration, working with David since 2013.

Jasmine has extensive knowledge and experience in client service including implementation of advice, portfolio reporting, assisting with the establishment of Self Managed Super Funds (SMSFs), term deposit management and a long history of helping clients with their enquiries.

Jasmine’s attention to detail, yet gentle approach, means she is able to solve the trickiest of questions for our client community.

Jasmine has gained her Certificate III in Financial Services qualification.

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Merrilyn Smith

Merrilyn Smith

Client Service Manager

Merrilyn has worked in the financial services industry for over 11 years in all areas of client administration, and is a new addition to our client services team, returning from Melbourne to join the team in June 2019.

Merrilyn has extensive knowledge and experience in client service including implementation of advice, managed fund administration, assisting with the establishment of Self Managed Super Funds (SMSFs) and process improvement for the previous practices she has worked with. Merrilyn’s experience with direct shares constitutes the other part of our administrative support for direct equity investments.

Merrilyn’s warm and caring nature continues to endear her to our clients and she has already established herself as a valued member of our team.

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