The corporate regulator has warned against an increased number of scams involving fake advertisements disguised as news articles from legitimate media outlets, or ones that contain bogus endorsements from the corporate regulator itself.

According to ASIC the fake advertisements often promote crypto-assets or contracts-for-difference (CFD) trading.

“A common tactic used by scammers is to promote fake articles via social media. They look realistic and impersonate real news outlets. Some examples include Forbes Business Magazine, ABC News, Sunrise and The Project,” the regulator states in a public release.

Once consumers click on these advertisements they are directed to an external site and asked for their contact details.

“Scammers then follow up by contacting the person making the enquiry, promising an investment with unrealistically high returns,” ASIC reports.

The regulator said to be especially wary around any suspicious news articles that mention crypto-currencies, and advised people to seek professional advice when making investment decisions in the area.

“Crypto-assets are largely unregulated in Australia and are high-risk, volatile investments,” ASIC states. “Do not invest any money in digital currencies that you are not prepared to lose.”

At the risk of stating the obvious, the regulator also made clear that most reputable news outlets don’t offer specific investments as part of their news coverage, and that ASIC itself does not endorse or promote particular investments.

“You should be wary of any website or advert which states the investment is approved by ASIC or contains ASIC’s logo – it’s a scam.”

Tahn Sharpe is a Sydney-based financial services journalist with a background in financial planning. He writes on advice, superannuation, investment, banking and insurance issues, is a certified SMSF Adviser and holds an Advanced Diploma of Financial Planning. Contact at [email protected]
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