Super scammers pose as authorities

The scattergun approach of fraudsters looking to cash in on the early release of unaware Aussie's super has backfired, with one scammer copping an earful from a financial planner he tried to swindle.

Fraudsters are posing as agents from superannuation authorities in an attempt to rip-off unsuspecting superannuation members.

By midday Thursday, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission had received 19 Scamwatch reports from concerned members of the public who had been contacted by people purporting to be from various fake superannuation authorities, offering to help unaware superannuation members ensure they aren't 'locked out of their account by the new rules'.

An ACCC spokesperson told Financial Standard the scams have increased since the government announced Australians suffering financial stress as a result of the economic impacts of COVID-19 could access up to $10,000 of their superannuation balance this year, and a further $10,000 in the next financial year.

The ACCC said almost all the reports it has received were about cold calls, with scammers claiming to be from various authorities and bodies including the "National Review Team", "Advisory Committee", "Superannuation Compliance", and "National Superannuation Board".

An ACCC spokesperson said "scammers have used a variety of excuses to request information about superannuation accounts", including ensuring the person is not locked out of their account "by the new rules", checking whether the person's superannuation account is eligible for various benefits or deals, and offering to help the person access the money in their superannuation.

One superannuation member the scammers would not have hoped to answer their unsolicited calls is Argurion Finance Group principal Chris Craggs.

Craggs told Financial Standard about how a scammer attempted to steal his superannuation, completely unaware of the fact Craggs was a financial planner.

"He started off by saying 'I want to discuss how we can help you gain access to superannuation'' So straight off the bat, no messing around," Craggs said.

Having just completed a Kaplan ethics exam, Craggs said the thought forefront in his mind was how unethical the practice of scamming ordinary Australians out of their superannuation really is.

"I'm sitting there thinking, 'You people are just randomly calling people', because there's no way anybody who looked me up on Google would go 'This guy would be a good mark.'"

Craggs asked the scammer for his AFSL number.

"He literally could not repeat back AFSL to me," Craggs said.

"I said do you understand the anti-hawking provisions? Nothing. And I went, 'Mate what you're doing is illegal. You're not allowed to do this'.

"Forget about legalities, this is not ethical what they're doing."

An ensuing social media post about the encounter may end up saving the super of many Australians, after it led the Australian Tax Office to get in touch.

"I've already had the ATO ring me today [Thursday] and say 'Please give us as many details as you can,'" Craggs said.

"Hats off to the ATO."

Earlier this week Intrust Super and the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees both warned superannuation members of the dangers posed by scammers who were attempting to use the government's early access initiative as a way to swindle Aussies out of their retirement savings.

Read our full COVID-19 news coverage and analysis here.

Read more: SuperSuperannuationScamACCCATOChris CraggsArgurion Finance GroupAustralian Institute of Superannuation TrusteesAustralian Tax OfficeIntrust SuperScamwatch
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