An investigation by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission has culminated in an arrest over a suspected investment scam.
The 42-year-old Melbourne man was arrested following a joint investigation by ASIC and Victoria Police E-Crime Squad which found more than 40 false business names registered to form part of an alleged scam between May 2019 and October 2020.
ASIC alleges the man obtained $370,000 from unsuspecting victims who believed they were investing in legitimate investment companies and created a number of websites and advertisements to lure in victims.
It is also alleged the man opened personal and business bank accounts at several financial institutions using a number of international passports which were later found to be fake.
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The corporate regulator obtained orders from the Federal Court of Australia against the man including that websites associated with the alleged scam be suspended and that associated bank accounts be frozen.
Victoria Police Finance and Cyber Crime Division head Jane Welsh said such scams could lead to someone losing their entire savings.
"These scams can be incredibly destructive for victims, not just financially but also emotionally. We can have victims who believe they are making a reputable investment, only to lose a lot of money," she said.
ASIC deputy chair Daniel Crennan said because of the pandemic, many people are experiencing financial stress and can be susceptible to scams.
"ASIC will continue to take action to protect consumers from unlicensed financial investments and fraudulent activity," he said.
"ASIC's investigation has prevented any further investments in the scheme and any additional harm to consumers."