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  • Australia’s financial watchdog has issued a warning, saying the number of investment scams is on the rise amid the COVID-19 pandemic
  • ASIC said it’s recorded a 20 per cent increase in complaints from March to May compared to the same period last year
  • The most common scams involve someone losing money after buying into fake crypto assets
  • ASIC is encouraging anyone affected by scams to report their losses

The economic uncertainty created by the coronavirus has led to a ‘perfect storm,’ allowing scammers to profit off investment scams, ASIC reports.

The watchdog today revealed it has recorded a 20 per cent rise in complaints from March to May, compared to the same period of time last year.

ASIC Executive Director for Assessment and Intelligence, Warren Day, said current economic uncertainty was fuelling the jump.

“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,” he said.

In particular, ASIC is concerned about the number of people losing money after buying into fake crypto assets.

“Most crypto-asset investment opportunities reported to ASIC appear to be outright scams and there is no actual underlying investment,” Warren said.

Alongside fake cryptocurrencies, the other popular financial scams being reported to ASIC are fraudulent investment offers, which either promise higher returns than possible or ask investors to continue handing over money despite no returns.

The watchdog said luring someone from a romance site into giving over their money also remains popular, as does fake endorsements.

In order to combat scammers, ASIC is asking more victims to come forward and report their losses, so the watchdog can build a better profile of the scams currently doing the rounds.

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