Watch out for super fraudsters

Robin Bowerman, Head of Retail at Vanguard Investments Australia.
Robin Bowerman, Head of Retail at Vanguard Investments Australia.

IT makes much sense to regularly check your super fund’s balance and recent transactions.

This is not to make you more focused on the extreme market volatility in recent weeks but to check that you have not become a victim of the latest bout of superannuation fraud.

A senior manager with the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (APRA), wrote last week to the trustees of APRA-regulated funds – that means all super funds except SMSFs – warning of an apparently new type of super fraud.

In his letter, the senior manager describes how the scam operates in such a seemingly simple way, which should place fund trustees along with fund members on extra alert to guard their balances.

It seems the operators first pick a member of large fund as a random victim after stealing their basic membership details, which are posted with regular statements to members.

Next, the operators look for a SMSF with a similar name and write to the victim’s large super fund, requesting that the member’s balance be rolled into the SMSF.

However, and here’s the twist, the fraudsters fake ATO documents which identify the SMSF, changing its mailing address. In short, cheques with the requested rollover amount are sent to the fraudsters’ post box address – not to the legitimate member.

APRA’s letter gives tips to the trustees of major funds for identifying such fake documentation. It makes interesting reading and you can read it here.

Given the rapid ageing of Australia’s population and the general inadequacy of retirement savings, these attempts to steal superannuation nest eggs are particularly unsavoury.

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Robin Bowerman, Vanguard Investments Australia's Head of Retail, has more than two decades of experience in the finance industry as a writer, commentator and editor.

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