10 years jail for men who scammed hundreds of Australians
TWO Gold Coast men have been sentenced to 10 years in jail for their role in a multi-million dollar investment scam involving hundreds of victims from all over Australia.
An eight-month operation by the Queensland Police Service, Australian Crime Commission and the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) found the men were responsible for setting up five companies offering non-existent investment opportunities.
Two men aged 31 and 34 appeared in Southport District Court today for the sentencing, having been charged with fraud to the value of more than $30,000 committed between December 2010 and December 2011.
Both men were sentenced to ten years imprisonment.
Acting Detective Superintendent Terry Lawrence, Commander of the QPS Fraud and Cyber Crime Group, said many of the victims of the fraud were looking to invest to recover losses they had sustained during the Global Financial Crisis.
"The QPS received more than 400 complaints from individuals who had invested more than $6 million into Gold Coast based companies purporting to be investment firms," Acting Detective Superintendent Lawrence said.
Victims were initially cold-called and were offered the opportunity to invest through index trading. Many of the victims invested their life savings with the fraudulent companies on the promise of receiving significant returns.
"The messages we want to stress to members of the public is to be 'fraud-aware'. Be wary of get rich investment schemes, assess the service offered carefully, seek advice from a professional and do not rush."
Australian Crime Commission Queensland Manager of Investigations Mr Carey Stent said victims of investment fraud have lost significant amounts of money and in some cases, all of their retirement funds. Individual loss ranges from $35,000 to more than $4 million.
"Intelligence shows that more than 2600 Australians have lost in excess of $113 million to investment frauds. However, this is a conservative estimate and the extent is far greater."
Mr Stent warned that in the next 20 years, a large number of Australians will retire from active work and have superannuation investments to manage. He said raising awareness of serious and organised investment frauds is crucial in preventing people falling victim.
"The Australian Crime Commission will continue to designate its full suite of capabilities to protecting the public from investment fraud as it has done with Project Galilee," Mr Stent said.