To target a problem that is costing Australians more than $1 billion a year, the country's corporate and consumer watchdogs are teaming up with private industry to form an 'investment scam fusion cell' with a wide remit of activities to protect the public.
A fusion cell is a taskforce limited to certain period, in this case six months, bringing together expertise from government and the private sector to take timely action in addressing specific, urgent problems.
The latest initiative marks the first of its kind for the new National Anti-Scam Centre, and will be led by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), and include representatives from the banks, telecommunications industry and digital platforms.
"Investment scams lead to the highest level of reported individual losses and cause emotional devastation for victims,” ACCC deputy chair Catriona Lowe explains.
"That is why the National Anti-Scam Centre is prioritising investment scam disruption as its first fusion cell in an initiative that facilitates timely action by finance, telecommunications and digital platforms to stop scammers.
"This additional level of co-ordination and focus across government and relevant industries will target investment scam activity more effectively and help prevent further losses to these scams."
ASIC deputy chair Sarah Court welcomes the announcement of the fusion cell and says the corporate watchdog looks forward to sharing its expertise in investment scams with the National Anti-Scam Centre.
"ASIC and the ACCC working together as part of the National Anti-Scam Centre's first fusion cell is an important step towards protecting Australians from harmful investment scams," Court says.
"A collaborative approach that sees regulators working with each other, as well as with the private sector, is crucial to addressing this challenge."
The National Anti-Scam Centre will be publicly reporting outcomes from the fusion cell, which will aim for:
- Early intervention to disrupt investment scams including stopping scammers from reaching potential victims;
- Removing investment scam websites from the internet;
- Sharing information about investment scam activity to assist the private sector to take disruption action;
- Providing information to the public so they can avoid investment scams; and
- Identifying intelligence to refer to law enforcement in Australia and overseas.
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