ASIC cracks down on scam websites

ASIC's victories and future plans in combating digital fraud highlighted

ASIC cracks down on scam websites


By Mina Martin

ASIC has shut down almost 3,500 scam websites since July 2023, as the regulator ramps up its surveillance and enforcement actions to safeguard consumers from digital frauds.

The investment scam websites were taken down through ASIC’s scam website takedown capability.

The initiative, introduced in July 2023, is part of the regulator’s broader strategy to combat digitally enabled misconduct and investment scams, aiming to protect consumers from the growing threat of online fraud.

Intensified surveillance and enforcement efforts

ASIC’s enforcement efforts are designed to minimise and prevent consumer harm while maintaining market integrity, tackling issues such as greenwashing, insurance failures, and ensuring compliance with legal standards.

ASIC Chair Joe Longo (pictured above) stressed the critical nature of the regulator's work, especially in light of cost-of-living challenges that make Australians more vulnerable to scams.

“ASIC is stopping investment scams at the source of their promotion, removing them from the internet before they can lure in unsuspecting consumers,” Longo said in a media release.

“We’ve already examined the way major banks detect, prevent, and respond to scams, resulting in ASIC setting expectations that all financial institutions take steps to improve their approaches.

“We have now turned our attention to a broader range of banks and superannuation trustees to ensure they’re doing all they can to protect their members and customers from predatory scammers.”

Significant results and future actions

ASIC has achieved significant enforcement results, including securing nearly $60 million in civil penalties and achieving nine criminal convictions in the half year leading to Dec. 31.

“We launched 83 new investigations, commenced 19 new civil proceedings, criminally charged 19 individuals, and completed nearly 350 surveillances,” Longo said. “ASIC is in courts and boardrooms across Australia almost every single day of the week.” 

Longo highlighted the regulator’s ongoing and future efforts to scrutinise lenders' compliance with hardship obligations, support for First Nations consumers, and superannuation trustees’ delivery of member services.

“We will continue to work to ensure the financial system works for all Australians,” he said.

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