SMSF specialist advisers can play a critical role in assisting trustees and self-directed investors avoid cybercrime and investment scams.
SMSF Association CEO John Maroney says: “Scams Awareness Week, which launches today, is an excellent time to remind SMSF members that there are extremely sophisticated scams circulating, and that their retirement savings are an obvious target.
“They need to be particularly alert to any offer, especially if there is the promise of higher-than-normal returns. The adage, ‘if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is’, is worth remembering when SMSFs receive unsolicited phone calls or emails offering investment advice.
“I can attest from personal experience just how sophisticated these scams can be when I was approached by ‘ASAL Group’ who claimed to be specialists in assisting people manage their SMSFs.
“It was a very slick approach. But the fact they claimed to be a subsidiary of a major financial institution, yet I had not heard of them, and promised returns of between 18-24% just seemed too good to be true, and were two warning signs for me.
“I checked on the ASAL Group to quickly discover it was a scam, and then alerted ASIC. To any SMSFs who find themselves in a similar situation, please consult with your specialist adviser who will be able to verify whether the offer is genuine or not. And report the scam to ASIC – its website is very helpful in giving investors guidance about potential scams – to allow the regulator to inform the wider investing community.”
In 2020, ASIC data shows investment scams totalled $328 million or 38 per cent of the total $851 million lost to scams in Australia in that year.
Maroney says: “This is of particular concern in our sector as SMSF trustees and self-directed investors can be financially crippled by these scams.
“The Association, in partnership with the regulators, has an important role to play in protecting our SMSF community.
“We will endeavour to continue educating SMSF professionals, trustees, and self-directed investors on how best to safeguard their retirement savings. There are many different types of scams in circulation and our role is to raise awareness, encourage conversation and promote vigilance to limit those in the SMSF sector from becoming the next scam victim.”
To read more on how the SMSF Association is addressing this issue, click here.