$675,000 lost in scam

Callum HunterSouth Western Times

A South West woman has lost almost $700,000 to an international investment scam, one of the biggest losses ever reported in the region.

The woman, who did not want to be named, said she came across an apparent news report posted on social media in April seemingly singing the praises of investing in online trading platforms.

“This information was sort of backed up by one of my friends in the industry,” she said.

“This posting lured me into clicking the website that was on the post on LinkedIn and Facebook.

“It led me to a website ... and I read through and it said you can make payments easily from as little as $500, so I thought let’s see where this leads me.”

Over the coming months the woman continued to make increasingly bigger payments on the trading platform under the impression she was getting huge returns on her investments overnight, some in the vicinity of 110 per cent or higher.

It was not until the woman told the supposed account manager in July that she would be backing off investment payments due to looming bills that her suspicions started to stir.

“He said how disappointed he was and I said I have kept my promises up until now but I really can’t afford it,” she said.

“The phone calls all slowed down and by August 15, I wasn’t receiving any phone calls and the funds were not increasing but not decreasing.”

The woman then called a friend in the stock exchange in London who responded “don’t touch them, they’re not a legitimate company”.

At the end, the woman had lost more than $675,000.

“I consider myself quite an intelligent person and if I was able to be scammed, I think it’s easy for these scammers to get to anybody in the community,” she said.

Consumer Protection South West regional co-ordinator Ann-etta Bellingeri said $1.9 million had been lost to investment scams in WA since July .

She said this particular loss was one of the biggest ever recorded in the region.

“What they’ll do is draw you into investment prospects ... sometimes they’ll also use a legitimate investment company’s name and details,” she said. “People underestimate how good these scammers are and people always think, ‘Oh I’ll never fall for it’.

“But they just don’t realise the resources these scammers have and their ability to psychologically manipulate you.

“Always use your own independently gathered information.”

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