Although some people have been lucky enough to make large amounts of money from online investments, earlier this year Sydney woman Anna Rogers lost $8,000 when she fell victim to a Facebook ad which turned out to be a scam.

Ms. Rogers originally saw the ad in her Facebook which read “access to Elon Musk’s investment platform”.

Although she was sceptical to an extent unfortunately her level of curiosity outweighed her concerns and after seeing the ad multiple times she decided to investigate further on Thursday 3rd February.

“Pass the official test from Tesla. Get access to Elon Musk’s investment platform. Tesla – IT breakthrough in the world of finance! Suitable for beginners. Available on any device. Potential profit from 1000 per day,” read the ad.

After clicking a button, she was redirected to a website that appeared to be a legitimate trading place for foreign exchange, cryptocurrency, stock and commodities.

“The website looked legitimate and professional, and I was keen to make some money to achieve some financial goals I had made. So, I signed up and a ‘trader’ named Mark called me that same day,” says Anna Rogers.

“After hearing my accent, Mark asked me what country I was born in. When I said I was from Poland, he quickly informed me that he was from Slovakia. Yet when I asked him a question about Slovakia, he said that when he was young, his parents moved to Miami. I didn’t think anything of it at the time,” continued Ms. Rogers.

During their conversation, Mark asked Ms Rogers if he could show her how to navigate the suspicious trading website.

“Within about ten minutes, Mark asked me to download the remote desktop Application ‘Any Desk’. After I downloaded the app, Mark took control of my computer so he could show me in real-time how the platform operated,” says Anna Rogers.

“For instance, he clicked on the screen which showed Bitcoin and I recall him saying ‘here you can purchase one bitcoin for AUD$29,000 but the next day you can sell it in the US market for $31,000 per coin,” continued Ms. Rogers.

In the same conversation, Mark requested Ms Rogers to transfer $10,000 to a “trading account” so she could start the money-making process.

Ms Rogers did not have $10,000 to invest at the time.

However, as she believed the venture was legitimate, Ms Rogers decided to transfer $3,000 the maximum amount of money she could afford to transfer from her Westpac account. The bank transfer was rejected by Westpac.

“In hindsight, I should have seen this as a sign of something not being right. I wish I had talked to someone about what I was doing,” says Anna Rogers.

When Ms Rogers was called again the next day to follow up on the transfer, she naively decided to dip into savings from her Commonwealth Bank account instead.

“I then transferred $3,000 to the account and within a matter of days, I received a return on my investment of $2,000. I was thrilled,” says Anna Rogers.

According to Ms Rogers, trader Mark would call her every three to four days to update her on her investment, send her screenshots to “prove” it was legitimate, and ask her to invest more money to unlock a “bigger return” for her.

“I had login details to the trading website so I could always check if what Mark was saying was accurate and it always was. Therefore, when he requested further funds from me, I said yes but that I was only able to invest a little bit more,” says Ana Rogers.

On Saturday 26th February Anna Rogers made her second transfer of $5,000. Two days later, Ms Rogers had not heard from Mark and knew straight away that something was not right

When she tried calling him to discuss her investment the phone number was disconnected.

Terrified that she was a victim of a scam, Ms Rogers called Commonwealth Bank and reported the transfers as a fraud.

The final confirmation she had been duped came a few weeks later when she received another suspicious phone call.

“A man called me and said that Mark had passed on my details as he thought I might be interested in purchasing gold and making a solid return. I politely told the man that I was not interested and hung up,” says Anna Rogers.

In hindsight, Ms Rogers is “embarrassed” by her experience and wishes that she had been less impulsive and paid more attention to the red flags associated with the transaction.

“Posting a fake advertisement on Facebook about granting me access to Elon Musk’s investment platform was too good to be true. Mark sending me a phony document about ‘arbitrage trading’, insisting on payment by bank transfer and not being reachable by phone at any time should have set off more alarm bells for me,” says Anna Rogers.

If you are worried about the legitimacy of a Facebook ad and you are concerned that you might be dealing with a scam, please make sure you proceed with caution. In most cases, the person running a scam try to look legitimate by posting fake advertisements on social media or having a professional website.

If you are investing your money into something that appears too good to be true, make sure you take caution and trust your gut if something feels off. Make sure you keep a look out for posters or sellers who say that you will make money and reference a “celebrity” in their posts to lure you in.

If scammers want you to pay immediately or via bank transfer, it is best to cease all contact with this person. If they try to get you to purchase a product or pay for services through a solid URL with “https” at the front, or via a secure payment service like PayPal.

If you have made a bank transfer and have not received a response or suspect that you have been scammed, contact your bank to stop the transfer as soon as quickly as possible.

It is also important to report the scam to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission through Scamwatch. Please keep in mind that unfortunately the ACCC cannot help with the recovery of funds money or tracking down a scammer.

The team at C&D Restructure and Taxation Advisory are here to help. As part of the Vault Group we can offer the full suite of financial products and advice to help you navigate the business landscape. Schedule a meeting here via Calendly or give us a call on 1300 1 VAULT (1300 182 858)

Post Author: Craig Dangar

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