Launch of the Report into Serious and Organised Investment Fraud in Australia

John Lawler, CEO of the Australian Crime Commission, Greg Medcraft the Chairman of ASIC, Dr Adam Tomison the Director of the Australian Institute of Criminology, Scott Lee the Acting Assistant Commissioner Australian Federal Police and Jeff Pope the Acting Deputy Commissioner of the Victorian Police as well as Sharon Grierson, Stephen Parry and Maria Vamvakinou, my colleagues and members of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement.

This is a very important report.

More than two-and-a-half thousand Australians have lost more than 113 million dollars to serious organised investment fraud over the course of the last five years.

That’s ten victims every week.

The targets of this sort of crime are primarily Australian men aged over fifty.

They’re usually highly educated and have high levels of financial literacy.

They’re likely to manage their own super.

This is what happens – the criminal syndicate cold calls the investor and refers them to a flash website, then sends them a brochure promising strong investment returns. After taking their money they usually string them along for a couple of months, sometimes a couple of years, and then suddenly the money disappears.

People’s entire life savings are stolen by criminals with the click of a mouse.

This type of crime destroys peoples’ lives – rips away their life savings – and can also be very difficult to stop.

The criminal syndicates normally operate outside Australia.

They use front companies and false names.

Once the money has been stolen, the website disappears and the trail goes dead.

It’s very important that Australians know that this type of crime is happening so they can take action to avoid becoming a victim of this sort of crime.

To target this, the Australian Crime Commission has established Task Force Galilee.

They work very closely with the finance industry.

I know that there are representatives of the industry here today and I thank you for your support.

We can’t do this work alone.

We can’t do this work without your involvement, your focus on this area will be critical to our success.

Here’s just one example.

Last month three Queenslanders were charged with laundering more than one-and-a-half million dollars from sixty-four victims.

Police will allege that these three people posed as telemarketers and were involved in a cold call investment fraud from within Australia.

It’s a good example of the work police are doing across the country.

But the biggest threat is overseas.

Recently, Task Force Galilee worked with police in Hong Kong to arrest two fraudsters who had stolen something like 300 thousand dollars from Australian investors.

Public awareness is critical for tackling this sort of crime. The more you know the less likely you are to become a victim.

That’s why the report that we’re launching today is so important.

It’s the first unclassified report of its kind, providing examples of how organised criminals conduct this sort of crime and offering advice about what we can do to protect ourselves.

In the next two months every Australian household will receive a letter telling them about this type of crime, and giving them information on how to avoid becoming a victim.

This is the first time that we’ve ever done a mail-out on this scale about serious organised crime.

This is a problem that’s not going to go away.

Australia’s retirement savings are growing, and that makes us a bigger target every year.

As I said, public awareness is critical.

I encourage everybody to read this letter.

Prevention is a lot better than cure. Once your life savings have been stolen, it’s very hard to get them back.

That’s why this report is so important.

I congratulate the Australian Crime Commission and the Australian Institute of Criminology for preparing this report and it is a pleasure to officially launch it today.