The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has confirmed it has received multiple referrals from other Government agencies around scams and fraud relating to Government stimulus related to COVID-19 including early release superannuation (ERS).
Providing answers to a question on notice from the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Corporations and Financial Services, ASIC said it had received referrals from the following agencies regarding COVID-19 scams and fraud:
Australian Taxation Office (ATO), Australian Federal Police (AFP), Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), Attorney General’s Department (AGD), Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) and the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA).
It said examples of matters referred to ASIC included:
“Serious and organised fraud targeting superannuation funds, cybercrime, use of malware and ransomware to target Australians and property crime and government program fraud, identity theft linked to COVID-19 stimulus schemes, suspicious COVID-19 international payments and money transfers, fraudulent websites providing misleading information and unlicensed financial advice about the JobKeeper stimulus program, and multiple fraudulent claims of COVID-19 small business support grants,” the ASIC answer said.
As well, it said there had been concerns around “serious and organised crime targeting ERS, real estate agents encouraging tenants to access ERS to meet rental payments, credit providers advising borrowers to use ERS meet loan repayments and members of the public being charged fees to access ERS”.
It said that the conduct of insurers towards travel insurance and business interruption insurance claims, and the adequacy of responses by lenders to borrowers that have made hardship applications had also been referred for its attention.
In an answer to another question on notice from the committee, ASIC said it was aware of different groups advertising or encouraging the use of ERS such as credit providers advising borrowers to use ERS meet loan repayments and a property developer offering cash incentives for home deposits when customers use ERS.
“To date, ASIC has issued warnings to a business offering the opportunity to purchase a franchise with them and a school that encouraged parents to pay school fees using ERS funds,” it said.
“ASIC continues to receive information regarding such conduct in other groups. We will continue to assess these reports of misconduct to determine appropriate next steps.”