Imposter bonds and term deposit scams

Imposter bonds and term deposit scams significantly increased between January and May in 2022, resulting in losses of over $10.9 million - with some victims losing their entire life savings.

How do imposter bonds and term deposit scams work?

Scammers create professional-looking websites identical to well-known financial services firms or banks, offering favourable fake bonds or term deposits. 

The scammers use legitimate business numbers (ABN), employ "representatives" to manage clients, create logins to fake portals and in some cases, even pay back "dividends" to maintain the charade.

In any case, the money people "invest" goes straight into the scammer's bank account and not towards any real investment. The money is never seen again.

How can you protect yourself?

  • Stop, think and take the time to verify. Call numbers independently verified - don’t use the contact details from the ‘investment site’, emails or text messages.
  • For Bonds, check the Prospectus you've been provided is on the ASIC Offer Notice Board and matches an existing offer. If there’s even the slightest difference, do not proceed.
  • Look for red flags in the website domain. They’re made to look like the real deal, but there should be tell-tale signs like unusual dots, dashes and spellings.
  • A BSB check of the payment details might expose an unexpected destination. The scammers often use different bank accounts and cryptocurrency exchanges to receive funds.
  • If you’re asked to transfer your funds to different accounts, that’s a red flag and a sign of "mule accounts" being used - do not proceed.
  • Always seek independent professional or legal advice before investing.
  • Talk to us. We’re more than happy to chat with you about any concerns you may have BEFORE you go ahead and make a payment or transfer.

What they look like: real life examples

Unlike most other online scams, imposter bonds and term deposit scams don’t present many red flags, making it incredibly difficult to identify. That’s why so many people have fallen victim in a big way.

One Melbourne-based man was conned into handing over $700,000 in March in the belief he was buying government bonds with an ANZ entity called Capel Court.

Another victim in the Gold Coast transferred $200,000 into a Barclays Bank term deposit that turned out to be fake.

In April, a Melbourne based auditor, clicked on a fake website expertly posing as Macquarie Bank and transferred $760, 000 into what she thought was a term deposit – losing it all.

And in May a NSW schoolteacher put $500,000 into a so-called Capel Court bond scheme. Their funds – and the website – have since disappeared

Here are some examples of websites, portals, marketing materials, receipts and communications used by the scammers:

Example: Marketing materials for a bond scheme created by the scammers.

Example: The fake Capel Court website and portal was very sophisticated, complete with customer log ins and real ABN numbers. All the receipts, invoices and bank statements looked incredibly real.

Example: The scammer used William Hughes as one of his aliases to multiple victims. His communications were professional and convincing.

Example: Scammers paid dividends to convince victims they were really investing.

If you think you have been the victim of an investment scam, you should:

  • Contact us immediately on (08) 8202 7777
  • Report it to ASIC and the police via cyber.gov.au
  • Stop sending money to the company! Be wary of secondary scams or offers to recover your money.
  • Change your passwords and PINs straight away if you suspect your security has been compromised
  • Contact IDCARE on 1800 595 160 or via idcare.org. IDCARE is a free, Government-funded service that provides support to victims of identity crime
  • Visit the Scamwatch website for more information on scams.

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