Protecting yourself from investment scams

Why older Australians need to be more scam savvy?

Anyone can fall victim to a scam however older Australians are more at risk as this demographic generally have more accumulated wealth than younger people and make for a more attractive target. According to Scamwatch statistics, in 2020, Australians over the age of 65 collectively lost over $37 million, which was more than any other age group. Scammers can also see older Australians as having less experience with computers and being less technologically savvy.

Investment scams

Last year, the most commonly reported scams for older Australians were investment scams and dating scams. Investment scams usually promise large payouts and high returns with very little risk involved. They normally appear out of the blue and sound too good to be true and that is normally because they are in fact too good to be true. Australians lose more money to investment scams than any other type of scams. So far this year, investment scams have cost Australians over $70 million with projected losses reaching $140 million by the end of the year.

Common types of investment scams include cryptocurrency scams, unsolicited callers with investment opportunities, romance baiting, celebrity endorsement scams, Ponzi schemes and superannuation scams. In all investment scams, the money you invest doesn’t go towards any real investment, it goes straight into a scammers bank account. It can be difficult to differentiate what is a scam and what is the real deal. Therefore, it is always good to seek financial advice from a financial advisor who is registered with ASIC prior to investing in a new opportunity.

How to spot an investment scam

  • Investment scams tend to promise large returns with little or no risk.
  • Being contacted out of the blue and being offered financial advice by someone you don’t know.
  • Being contacted repeatedly for investment opportunities.
  • Being offered financial advice by someone who doesn’t have an Australian Financial Services (AFS) licence.
  • Use of high-pressure tactics encouraging you to act upon the opportunity fast.
  • Use of celebrity endorsements for investments.
  • You are asked to deposit funds into multiple accounts.

Tips to protect yourself from investment scams

  • Don’t feel pressured into making a decision despite being given urgent deadlines.
  • Always do your research before investing money.
  • Do not engage with unsolicited callers offering financial advice.
  • Check if a financial advisor who is offering you financial advice is registered via the ASIC website.
  • Check ASIC’s list of companies you should not deal with.
  • Even if the company is not on ASIC’s list, be wary as it may still be a scam.
  • Remember the warning signs that can help you spot an investment scam.

If you ever believe you are being scammed, you can hang up the phone or delete the email. You can also report scams relating to financial services to ASIC.

For more information, you can visit:

Moneysmart – Investment scams
Scamwatch – Investment scams


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