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FMA urges vigilance after investor loses $700,000 in overseas scam


FMA urges vigilance after investor loses $700,000 in overseas scam


A man has been left $700,000 out of pocket after being scammed by a fake overseas investment company.

The Financial Markets Authority says cold calls about investment opportunities are generally illegal in New Zealand (File image).
Photo: 123RF

It has prompted a warning from the financial regulator, which is urging people to look for red flags.

Bob* from Auckland received a cold-call about an investment opportunity in November last year, which he believed was legitimate.

The caller, from an investment company named Synergy Capital Asset Management in Hong Kong, was offering trading pre-IPO (initial public offering) shares, which are shares some companies sell before they hit the market.

The caller proposed an initial small investment of $8000 to establish trust.

“At that time, it was just a play around. I didn’t bother myself too much about it. I thought, if I lose $8000, well, I’ve learnt my lesson.”

A week later, Bob got a phone call from a man who introduced himself as Michael Cornell, the head of the corporate department at Synergy Capital.

“He’s a great talker. I can have a conversation with him for 20 minutes and get four words in.

“There was a lot of technical stuff I didn’t understand. But I thought, ‘he obviously knows what he’s doing’. He sounded really trustworthy, like he knew his stuff.”

In January this year, Bob’s bank blocked him from sending Cornell over $55,000, warning him it could be a scam.

The scammer reassured him banks do it all the…

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