Banks issue warning against ‘too good’ investment schemes

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Two major banking institutions have issued strong warnings against ‘too good to be true’ investment opportunities, reminding consumers that any approval of an investment scheme should only come from the Reserve Bank of Fiji (RBF).

“In a time where social media is a key source of information for many users, it is important that retail investors wishing to engage in any investment scheme are aware of the risks associated with relying on recommendations disseminated on social media, when making investment decisions,” RBF said in a statement early this week.

Last year, many in Fiji fell victim to the EbayShop Online scheme, described by authorities as “the biggest scam ever in Fiji” where consumers lost more than $3.5million to scammers.

Early this year, another investment scheme called ‘Elite Society’ was seen circulating and recruiting members on social media, prompting the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission (FCCC) to issue a warning to the public against this “potential new scam”.

“Members of the public need to exercise caution when engaging with “Elite Society” or any schemes operated through non-approved individuals or entities, as fraudulent schemes are becoming more sophisticated in their approach to lure uninformed investors,” RBF said.

The central bank also cautioned that it is the only institution that gives approval of operation for investment schemes in cases where: – people are required to contribute money or money’s worth as consideration to benefit from something, – contributions are pooled or used in a common enterprise, or – members do not have day-to-day control over the operation of the scheme.

“Potential investors are encouraged to thoroughly research any opportunity before investing their hard earned savings and are most welcome to contact the Reserve Bank of Fiji to enquire about the legitimacy of investment schemes presented to them on social media platforms.”

Echoing the call, ANZ Bank’s regional executive Pacific, Sarah Stubbings, while also speaking on the ‘Elite Society’ investment scheme, cautioned that investment scammers would often “contact a victim ‘out of the blue’, claiming to be from a legitimate organisation or financial institution with a ‘once in a lifetime’ investment opportunity”.

“Scammers often have legitimate looking websites and emails and even detailed financial presentations, to help them look and sound knowledgeable,” Ms Stubbings said.

“These are sophisticated criminals and can be very convincing. They will encourage their victims to invest large sums of money and promise fast and substantial returns.”

She advised consumers to conduct their own research and get trusted professional advice before taking part in any investment schemes opportunity offered to them.

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