Residents in the booming mining districts of Australia are being targeted by investment fraudsters, according to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

In a statement released yesterday ASIC said it had received evidence that mining towns in particular are at risk of being contacted by promoters of dodgy investment schemes. The resources sector in Australia has boomed in the last two years as demand from China has pushed up prices and Greg Tanzer, ASIC executive director consumer protection, said people selling high-risk illegal investment products are taking advantage of the situation. “The strong demand for Australia’s natural resources means there is more work and higher earnings. It’s only natural that people with a bit more cash in their pockets start thinking about investing,” Tanzer said. “The real danger is when they get a phone call, investment offer or email hot tip out of the blue, offering something that looks like a good investment.” Tanzer said the most common illegal schemes being offered include: people posing as overseas stockbrokers and investment experts peddling worthless shares; Australian-based tax avoidance schemes promising high returns, and; fake tips emailed about thinly-traded and little-known US stocks.

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