A fake investment scheme that used the image of Fortescue Metals Group chairman Andrew Forrest has scammed a Western Australian woman out of $670,000.
The investment scheme was promoted on Facebook and LinkedIn. The Bunbury woman said she had made six payments to bank accounts in Australia and Germany, as well as to a credit card account.
The online trading platform made the woman feel secure about investing by depositing a total of $58,500 in six payments into her bank account when she asked to withdraw some funds from her trading account.
The scammers also sent her a birthday present of a Louis Vuitton bag valued at $2700.
Western Australian commissioner for consumer protection Penny Lipscombe said it was popular for scammers to use images of celebrities and trusted people to make scams look legitimate.
“In this case the bogus investment scheme used Andrew Forrest’s image and provided links to false news reports of him endorsing the scheme, making the offer look authentic and convincing,” Lipscombe said.
In response to these scams, Fortescue has issued warnings about these scams, encouraged staff to report incidents, and worked with social media entities at an executive level.
In a Fortescue statement, the company indicated that it had asked the social media platforms to take more pro-active steps to eliminate the scam advertisements using the technology available to them.
Since July 1 2019, 15 victims of investment scams have made reports to WA ScamNet, losing a total of almost $2.7 million. Last financial year, 63 Western Australian victims reported losing a total of $5.9 million.
Lipscombe has warned people to be diligent against scams.
“When considering an investment, make sure the company or broker is the real deal by checking their registrations online and be suspicious of any unsolicited offers you might receive either by phone, email or via social media,” Lipscombe said.
“ASIC registers investment companies and agents in Australia and regulates the industry here, so do a check on their website to begin with. If the company claims to be overseas, there are usually government regulators in other countries that also have online registers that you can search.”