SCAMMERS ripped off more than $113 million from unsuspecting Australians during the past five years, a new report by the Australian Crime Commission revealed on Monday.
The first unclassified report of its kind on organised crime and fraud was released on Monday, revealing the full extent of investment cons and scams in Australia since 2007.
Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare said the report showed more than 2600 Australians lost more than $113 million to serious and organised investment fraud in the last five years.
But as some people may be too embarrassed to report they were ripped off, Mr Clare said the real figure could be even higher.
"The targets of this type of crime are primarily Australian men, aged over 50. They are usually highly educated - and have high levels of financial literacy. They are likely to manage their own super.
He said the criminal syndicate usually cold called the investor, referred them to an impressive website and sent them a brochure promising strong investment returns.
"After taking their money they string them along for months or even years and then the money disappears.
"People's entire life savings are stolen by criminals with the click of a mouse.
"This type of crime destroys wealth and destroys lives. It's also very difficult to stop," he said.
The criminal syndicates usually operate from outside Australia, use front companies and false names.
"Once they've stolen the money the website disappears and the trail goes dead."
In an effort to battle the criminals, in the next two months, the government will send every household a letter warning them about the activity and how to avoid getting caught out.
To prevent becoming a victim, go to www.moneysmart.gov.au or call 1300 300 360 for more information, and report any suspected fraud on the same number, including company names, location and contact details.
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