Financial Services

Where there's cash, there's crime

Return to blog

Where there's cash, there's crime

Apr 28, 2017Tyrone Wiseman

Racy snaps of celebs aren’t the only target for hackers and fraudsters. Perhaps surprisingly, superannuation is now also a target for organised crime. It turns out criminals, are rather tempted by Australia’s bulging $1.8 trillion super wallet.

But with existing security and processes in place to prevent fraud and money laundering, how are they doing it?

Identity theft.

It’s a crime that affects up to 900,000 Aussies each year, with an estimated cost of more than 1.6 billion. It’s more common than assault, break-ins, car theft and hooligans at the footy. 

The crooks are after your personal details -- things like your name, date of birth, tax file number and bank details. And those are all things that can be found in both your mailbox and online. Your bank statements, super statements, rates notices, Medicare forms, driver’s licence and online accounts and profiles are all sources that can be stolen and misused.

And the scary thing is, you might not even know they’re missing.

Senior Sergeant Kylie Rigg from the Fraud and Cyber Crime Group warns, “Once this information is obtained, a simple search online for further details on the victim may give the criminal enough information to take over that identity.” 

And with so many transactions now being done online, it’s easier than ever for criminals to use your identity to open online accounts, steal your money and cause you a whole lot of heartache. 

What’s both interesting and alarming, is SMSFs (self managed super funds) are becoming more vulnerable to this kind of crime. As their balances grow so does the temptation. And their DIY nature means they often don’t have the same checks and balances that larger financial institutions have, so there are more opportunities for you to be taken advantage of.

Barbara Drury from the Sydney Morning Herald shares the story of Phil (not his real name) who lost his life savings.

"Phil was coaxed into rolling his superannuation savings into a self-managed super fund by a trusted personal connection we will call Matt. When the new fund was set up, Phil handed the investment management to Matt, who claimed to be a broker acting for two investment companies.

Unfortunately, the investments were non-existent and Phil's life savings disappeared into Matt's pocket. The first Phil knew of this was 10 months later when he was contacted by the police.

The experience has had a devastating financial and emotional impact on Phil, who has lost everything. 

Phil is not alone. Matt conned 55 friends, and friends of friends, with his fraudulent investment scheme. Together they lost almost $10 million. "

So how do you avoid the same thing happening to you, without resorting to a bunker and wads of cash under your mattress?

  • Use a PO Box, get a lock on your mailbox and be alert for any missing mail
  • Be aware of people milling around your mailbox, particularly in apartment complexes 
  • Shred or destroy all personal or financial mail before you throw it away 
  • Use strong passwords and try a free tool like LastPass to manage them securely 
  • Think twice about sharing your personal information online, over the phone and in person 
  • Check the credentials of anyone offering you financial or investment advice via the Financial Advisers Register  
  • Review your bank and super statements regularly to identity any unusual transactions 
  • Consider consolidating your direct share portfolio into a single account via a SMA (separately managed account) or a managed fund 
  • Learn how to avoid common scams by visiting

If you suspect your information and identity have been compromised, contact your bank or financial institution as soon as possible.

You can also contact IDCARE, which is Australia and New Zealand’s national identity support service. They’ll help identify if you’re a victim and provide advice on how to recover. The service is funded by government and industry, so there’s no cost to you.

You may also want to request a free copy of your credit report via Equifax (formerly Veda) to identify any impact on your credit rating.

With all this increased risk of fraud, we’ve noticed that financial transaction times can be slower when there’s a need to contact us or have us verify we’re your adviser. At the time, it probably feels like it’s all a bit of a hassle, but trust us, it’s worth it for the peace of mind and protection you’ll get in the long run.