ASIC warns investors over ‘too good to be true’ bogus bond scheme

ASIC has warned investors of imposter bond investment offers where scammers are targeting Aussie investors by pretending to be associated with well-known domestic and international firms, offering rates too good to be true.

According to ASIC, high-yield bond scams usually occur in most circumstances after an investor completes an online enquiry form expressing interest in receiving investment advice, often via a third party or comparison site.

Scammers, the watchdog explained, often pretend to be associated with domestic and international financial services, offering investors unrealistically high returns. When individuals decide to invest in these bogus bonds, they are directed to pay funds into a bank account.

ASIC warned that it can be difficult to recover money lost to scams, especially if the scammers are based outside of Australia.

As such, acting chair Karen Chester urged investors to be wary of claims that are “too good to be true”.

“Interest rates globally are currently extremely low, and expected to remain so for some time. If you see or receive offers of high-yield bonds, they are either high-risk or they may simply be bogus and a scam,” Ms Chester said.

“Investors searching for income-generating investments are at risk of being duped into buying these imposter bonds. Any prospectus offering incredible returns in the today’s economic environment is likely to be just that: incredible. ASIC warns investors to be sceptical and make proper inquiries before investing,” she explained.

ASIC also noted that other common tactics include falsely claiming investor funds will be pooled to invest in government bonds or the bonds of companies with AAA credit ratings, and falsely claiming the purchase price of the bonds is protected under the Commonwealth government’s Financial Claims Scheme.

Ms Chester also urged Australian investors to be careful with sharing their personal information online.

“We remind investors to check that they are actually dealing with the company they think they are dealing with,” she said.

“Do not share personal information online unless you can verify who is using the information and how it will be used. We are seeing a rise in suspicious websites that are simply lead generators for scammers.

“Ensuring investment products are true to label is front and centre for ASIC. While ‘true to label’ covers all aspects of the investment product being offered, the foundation stone is basic truthfulness, and none more so than that the product issuer is actually who they say they are. This conduct is beyond not being true to label, it’s bogus to label.”

By Cameron Micallef on 01 February 2021 – centrepointalliance.com.au

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