Scammers pose as financial services companies or banks and offer fake 'low-risk' investment products, like bonds or fixed term deposits.
These scams target people searching online to compare and find the 'best' long-term or 'safe' investment options.
Because scammers impersonate real investment providers in these scams, they can be convincing. Follow the tips on this page to avoid getting caught out.
If someone contacts you about an investment you think could be a scam or you're concerned about a website, report it to warn others.
Be alert to imposter bond scams
Offers of fake bonds or fixed term deposits may not look risky. They may not include statements that are clearly 'too good to be true'.
To stay alert to these types of scams, be wary and check the details.
Look out for fake comparison websites and online enquiry forms
Scammers commonly set up fake comparison websites to lure investors. The website may list the types of investments available. But it may have little or no detail about the companies it claims to 'compare'.
The scammers collect personal details like your name, email and phone number using enquiry forms on these fake comparison websites. They may ask for your investment goals, then use this information to target you with a fake investment offer.
They may ask for information to 'verify' your identity, like copies of your passport, driver's licence or electricity bill. The scammers can then use these documents to steal your identity.
Be wary of surprise offers to invest
A scammer may contact you with an investment offer, claiming to be from a well-known bank or investment company.
The people you speak to can seem knowledgeable, offering what appears to be a 'full service' brokerage. They will seem to be extra helpful, often promising fast processing times for the investment to proceed.
Scammers often impersonate real companies. They may use the name of a real person working at the bank or company they say they represent.
Be wary of surprise contact and independently verify who you are dealing with. For detailed steps, see check before you invest.
Discuss and check with someone else
If you're making a large deposit, investment or money transfer, get someone you trust to check it first.
This could be a friend or family member, a finance professional, or a bank teller at your local branch. They may be able to spot something you have missed.
If the scammer gets your money, they may falsely confirm the deposit. They may send you paperwork about your 'investment' and say you'll get an interest payment in 6 or 12 months.
But they may quickly withdraw your money from the bank account. Once they do that, the money may be impossible to recover.
Check the account details match
Look carefully for signs that deposit or transfer account details might belong to a scammer. Check that the payee bank account is in the same name as the licensed investment provider.
Watch out if they ask you to transfer money to multiple bank accounts. Or if the account details suddenly change.
Check and compare the minor details
A scammer may use promotional material or website excerpts from a well-known bank or investment company. This makes the investment seem 'real' and convincing. But they make small changes to the business contact details, like the address, phone number or email address.
Check these details against public information you find, including the websites of companies listed in the promotional material.
Learn how bonds work
Make sure you know how investing in bonds works in Australia. Be aware of who can issue them and how to buy and sell.
To find out more, see investing in bonds.
Research the company
Search for the company online and review their website.
- If they claim to be from a well-known company, check that company's website. Look for any scam or impersonation warnings.
- Check company reviews for warnings (search the company name, with the word 'scam').
- Check the email address matches the company website domain name (after @ in email address).
- Check the person or company is licensed to offer you these investments. Follow the steps on check before you invest.
Search the investor alert list
ASIC's investor alert list is a list of suspicious companies, businesses and websites that are not to be trusted. They may be unlicensed, operating illegally or impersonating real companies. Search the investor alert list.
What to do if you've been scammed
If you think you've been targeted by scammers, contact your financial institution immediately.
For steps to take and where to report it, see what to do if you've been scammed.
Pablo avoids an imposter bond scam
Pablo is looking for somewhere safe to invest the money from the recent sale of his house. He searches online using the term “best high yield investment” and finds an investment comparison website.
He completes an online enquiry form on the website. Someone claiming to be from a well-known bank contacts him. This person offers Pablo “high-interest treasury bonds”. They say the bonds have a 5-year term, a 6% fixed interest rate, and are price-protected under a government scheme. They email Pablo a prospectus.
Pablo notices that the email is not from a bank email address. He checks ASIC’s Offer Notice Board to see if the prospectus is registered with ASIC. He doesn’t find it. He then looks up the bank’s website for more information and discovers a warning about imposter bond scams.
Pablo decides not to invest with this person and blocks their calls. He reports them to Scamwatch.