Fraudsters have purchased personal information including credit card details submitted online by Australians to commit investment fraud, according to a new report from the Australian Crime Commission (ACC).
According to the Serious and Organised Investment in Australia report (PDF), the leads broker market specialises in on-selling personal data that can be used to target people who want to purchase specific products. This data is obtained legitimately from sources such as surveys or competitions.
Using this information, the ACC estimates that criminals have bilked 2600 Australians out of $113 million in the past five years through methods such as telemarketing calls and legitimate looking websites. According to the report, fraudsters have also manipulated search engine sites to move negative feedback about their operations off the top spots.
"Armed with information such as income, superannuation, mortgage and investment details of individuals, organised criminal networks are able to identify those most susceptible to particular schemes, such as serious and organised investment fraud," read the report documents.
The ACC found that the most likely victim in Australia was over 50 years old or retired, male, financially independent or a small business owner.
In addition, the ACC made a number of recommendations in the report for consumers to avoid being a victim of fraud.
Always seek independent financial advice before making an investment.
Check that any company you are discussing investments with has a valid Australian Financial Services Licence by visiting the Moneysmart website.
Alert family and friends to the fraud, especially anyone who may have savings to invest.
Hang up on unsolicited telephone calls offering overseas investments.
Report suspected fraud to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) or local police.
"Any information that can be provided such as the company name, location and contact details will assist with subsequent investigations and enquiries," read the report documents.