Fraudsters too smart, says ASIC

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ASIC is limited in its ability to protect financial services professionals against online scammers, admits Brett Bassett, the regulator’s senior executive leader.

Bassett told Wealth Professional’s sister publication Australian Broker, that the ability for fraudsters to pose as somebody they aren’t “really does limit our ability take action in some instances”.

“The sophistication of some of these fraudsters…they, for all intents and purposes have the legitimacy of Australian credit licences, Australian financial services licensee, or an Australian credit representative. They use scripts to give them the air of legitimacy, the websites they use are often very, very sophisticated and the terminology they use may lead people who are not necessarily dealing with that type of person on a daily basis to believe that they are… legitimate,” Bassett says.

Bassett cites a recent example where fraudsters believed to be based overseas stole the identity of a legitimate mortgage broking firm, as well as the identities of several employees and used them to create a false website.

Although he says that ASIC is limited in its ability to protect true professionals, there are a few things that advisers can do to lower their risk of being targeted. Bassett says that professionals need to be vigilant about their own online presence – checking the internet on a regular basis to see if their name appears on anybody else’s websites, for example – and encourage clients to always verify a person’s qualifications and licenses.

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