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An Australian regulator has warned residents seeking to self-manage their retirement funds to be wary of investing in crypto-asset investments that promise high returns in a short space of time. The regulator reiterates in the warning that crypto-assets are a high-risk and speculative investment.

Scammer Tactics

The Australian financial services regulator, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), has warned residents that self-manage their superannuation funds to be wary of scammers that are using the lure of quick and high returns offered by crypto assets to defraud unsuspecting victims.

The watchdog added that superannuation fund members that wish to “transfer superannuation [retirement savings] out of a regulated fund into a self-managed superannuation fund (SMSF)” should seek advice from a licensed adviser before making the switch.

In a public warning issued on January 17, 2022, the ASIC also details some of the tactics used by scammers that Australians need to be on the lookout for. The warning states:

Do not rely on social media ads or online contact from someone promoting an ‘investment opportunity.’ Be wary of people ‘cold calling’, text messaging, or emailing you with a recommendation to transfer your super to an SMSF, or invest in crypto-assets via your SMSF.

For Australians that decide to personally manage their retirement funds, the watchdog reminds them of their responsibilities as well as the tax consequences that arise if they decide to invest in cryptocurrencies. The warning also emphasizes that only licensed financial advisors are better placed to assist Australians seeking to set up an SMSF.

Unlawful Transfer of Funds

Meanwhile, the warning revealed that the ASIC had made the decision to shut down an unlicensed services business. One shutdown example is A One Multi-Services, back in November, after it accused the latter of unlawfully transferring $2.4 million to buy crypto-assets.

The warning explained: “ASIC obtained interim orders and injunctions from the Federal Court in Queensland against A One Multi and its directors Aryn Hala and Heidi Walters to protect investors.”

In the meantime, the warning says Australians that have been scammed can contact ASIC on its hotline or via the internet.

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