Cold Call Investment Fraud (CCIF) relates to attempts by CCIF companies to defraud members of the public. Random or unexpected contact is usually made by a CCIF company via telephone to induce the caller into 'investing' in high return ventures. Once money is obtained by the CCIF company it is very difficult for the 'investor' to get their money back.
What do I do if I receive one of these calls?
Hang up on unsolicited telephone calls offering investments.
Report suspected investments fraud:
- If you have only received a call from a CCIF Company but not received any further contact or documentation you should contact Scamwatch online at www.scamwatch.gov.au or by phoning 1300 795 995 between 8.30am and 5.30pm Monday to Friday.
- If you have received multiple calls from a CCIF Company and/or paperwork please complete the Qld Police Service Online Form located below.
- If you have invested money in a CCIF Company, a Qld Police report will need to be completed. To do this you will need to attend you nearest police station or contact Policelink on 131 444.
Only use the Qld Police on-line service to report CCIF if you have:
- Received multiple phone calls from a Cold Call Investment Fraud Company
- Received documentation or instructions from a Cold Call Investment Fraud
- The details of the CCIF company that contacted you
- Ten (10) minutes to complete the on-line form
Subject to operational requirements, you will receive a reply to your nominated e-mail address within 48 hours which will contain your Queensland Police reference number.
The information provided using the online form will be forwarded to Police to assist in further investigations into Cold Calling Investment Fraud Contact Centres. Depending on the information provided, police may contact you for further information.
Cold Call Investment Fraud Information and FAQ
What is a "cold-call" investment fraud?
Cold-call investment fraud (CCIF), also known as "boiler room" fraud, is a type of organised crime in which a group of criminals set up an elaborate façade of legitimate business to defraud people by getting them to invest in opportunities and companies that do not deliver as promised.
The frauds involve a person receiving an unsolicited contact, usually a telephone call out of the blue (a cold call), connecting them with a salesperson. The salesperson builds rapport with the investor, using various techniques designed to induce the person to invest in what is claimed to be a highly profitable money-making venture. The investment opportunity is of course fraudulent and there is no possibility that it will ever deliver the promised results. Once the criminal group has obtained money from a number of investors, they shut down the particular company, with the investor often losing all the money they handed over.
Criminals running cold call frauds have been targeting Australian investors since the 1990s, either through schemes set up either overseas or within Australia.
How organised crime is targeting your money
Cold-call investment frauds generally start with a phone call that offers the opportunity to be part of a lucrative investment. In most cases, they end with the company shutting up shop, only to re-emerge somewhere else under another name, looking for new prospective clients. And the investor? In most cases they lose all the money they put into the venture, with no means of recouping their losses.
Make no mistake – cold call fraud is organised crime, costing Australians millions of dollars each year. But it can be stopped if people know the signs of a cold-call approach and what they should do when the phone rings.
What you should know
- Historically cold-call investment fraud had been committed by criminal networks operating from overseas, mostly Asia, but this type of crime is now being set up and operated from within Australia.
- Cold-call investment fraud is a complex crime type involving criminal, consumer and corporate law, making it difficult to pursue and prosecute.
- The main targets for this type of fraud are middle-aged and older Australians with good jobs or recently retired.
- Investor/public awareness is the best response to this type of fraud – an informed public that can recognise the signs of criminal intent behind a seemingly legitimate investment offer.
- Cold-call investment fraud is one crime type in which prevention is undoubtedly better than cure.
The cost of cold call frauds
The total cost of cold call frauds to date is difficult to measure accurately, but it can be counted in both the financial loss and the personal impact on those who invested their money in such schemes.
A recent operation by the CCC and QPS (Operation Sterling) has focused on eleven networks believed to have been involved in cold-call frauds on the Gold Coast and Brisbane. It has been conservatively assessed that cold-call fraud originating only from these 11 networks cost the Australian public at least $30 million a year. Judging by the latest ACCC report, investment fraud originating from overseas has been reported as costing the Australian victims $24 million in 2015, bringing the total potential annual loss in Australia from cold-call frauds to over $50 million per annum. This is a highly conservative estimate, and the real loss is almost certainly exceeding this figure multiple times.
The true dollar cost of this fraud type is hard to measure due to significant under-reporting and under-admitting. Only one in four investment fraud victims, who had lost between $1000 and $25000, admitted to having been scammed. Some of the reasons for not reporting included investor uncertainty whether they had been involved in an actual fraud or simply a bad investment, a lack of definite evidence or not knowing who to report their case to.
Who is targeted?
The type of person targeted by these frauds is generally male, older (over 50 years of age), educated, computer-literate and on a higher income.
Australians are a key target group of this investment fraud because:
- Australians are a receptive audience to offers to 'invest';
- Australia is a relatively wealthy country where people have funds to invest; and
- There is unprecedented interest in the investment market by retail investors (regardless of investor knowledge).
With the cost of fraud so high, and its impact so potentially devastating, it is vital that people know how to see through the scams — to recognise the signs and tactics of criminal activity behind seemingly legitimate offers.
Public Information Fact Sheet from FCCG (PDF, 890KB)
 AARP, 2003
 Scams, schemes & swindles, A review of consumer financial fraud research 2012, fraudresearchcenter.org (accessed 29 May2016)