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Thursday 15 October 2020

20-244MR Man arrested following suspected financial investment scam

E-Crime Squad detectives have arrested a man as part of an ongoing investigation into a number of financial investment scams.

The 42-year-old Thornbury man was arrested following the execution of two search warrants at addresses in Thornbury earlier this morning.

Investigations by the Victoria Police E-Crime Squad and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) into a series of suspected financial investment scams found more than 40 false business names registered to form part of the alleged scam between May 2019 to October 2020.

It is alleged the man obtained a large number of international passports and opened personal and business bank accounts at various financial institutions across Melbourne using the passports, which were later identified as fake.

A number of websites and advertisements were created as part of the alleged scam and at least $370,000 has been obtained from unsuspecting victims who believed they were investing in legitimate investment companies.

On 13 October 2020, ASIC obtained orders from the Federal Court of Australia against the Thornbury man including that two websites associated with the alleged scam be suspended and that associated bank accounts be frozen.

The man remains in custody and the investigations remain ongoing.

Head of the Victoria Police Finance and Cyber Crime Division, Detective Superintendent Jane Welsh, said scams like this can cause an immense amount of harm in the community and lead to some people losing their entire savings.

“Investigations such as this are about holding to account people who are willing to engage in this type of criminal behaviour,” she said.

“These scams can be incredibly destructive for victims, not just financially but also emotionally.

“We can have victims who believe they are making a reputable investment, only to lose a lot of money.

“From a Victoria Police perspective, today’s arrest also highlights the partnership approach we have to these investigations and the crucial role agencies such as ASIC play in assisting to locate these offenders.

“We will continue to investigate any allegations of financial scams and strongly encourage anyone who believes they have been a victim to contact police or make a report via the national Report Cyber website.”

ASIC Deputy Chair Daniel Crennan QC said, “In the COVID-19 environment, many people are experiencing financial stress and can be the target of scammers. ASIC will continue to take action to protect consumers from unlicensed financial investments and fraudulent activity.

"ASIC’s investigation has prevented any further investments in the scheme and any additional harm to consumers.”

If you believe you have been a victim of this scam, we encourage people to make a report on the Report Cyber website at www.cyber.gov.au or contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000. Consumers who believe they have encountered a financial scam can also report misconduct to ASIC via ASIC’s website.

Last updated: 15/10/2020 11:17