Andrew Forrest image used in online scam

Andrew Forrest. Picture: Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images
Andrew Forrest. Picture: Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images

SCAMMERS have used an image of entrepreneur Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest for a fake investment scheme, causing a WA woman to lose $670,000.

The woman, from Bunbury, found the investment scheme being promoted on Facebook and LinkedIn in March 2019.

She said she has since made six payments to bank accounts in Australia and Germany as well as a credit card account.

An image of Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest was used by scammers for an investment scam. Photo: AAP

The woman said the online trading platform made her feel secure by depositing $58,500 in six payments into her back account when she asked to withdraw funds from her trading account.

The scammers also sent her a Louis Vuitton bag valued at $2,700 as a birthday present.

In the 2018/19 financial year, 63 WA victims reported losing a total of $5.9 million.

A further 15 victims of investment scams have reported to WA ScamNet losing a total of almost $2.7 million since July 1 this year.

Commissioner for Consumer Protection Penny Lipscombe said it was becoming increasingly popular for fraudsters to use images of celebrities and trusted people in the community 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,” she said.

“There are also cases where legitimate investment companies are having their corporate identities and brands stolen to be used in fake websites, advertisements and social media pages.”

Ms Lipscombe advised to ensure the company or broker was the real deal by checking their registrations online and be wary of unsolicited offers via phone, email or social media.

“ASIC registers investment companies and agents in Australia and regulates the industry here, so do a check on their website to begin with,” she said.

“If the company claims to be overseas, there are usually government regulators in other countries that also have online registers that you can search.”

ASIC’s Tips to avoid investment scams:

  • Don’t respond to emails and phone calls from strangers offering predictions on shares, investment tips or investment advice.
  • Be suspicious of offers to sell you shares, cryptocurrency or a chance to take part in Binary Options Trading, especially if the ‘company’ is based overseas.
  • Do your own research before you invest and do not invest what you cannot afford to lose.
  • If someone’s telling you about a way to make easy, fast money and putting significant pressure on you to invest big with a promise of high returns, ask yourself “is it too good to be true?” and discuss it with someone you trust.
  • Carry out thorough research before investing money and get independent financial advice from a licensed financial advisor. See ASIC’s Financial Advisers Register.
  • Check ASIC’s MoneySmart website to see a list of companies you should not deal with.

You can get help to verify investment offers and report investment scams by contacting WA ScamNet on 1300 30 40 54.