Sports 'investment' schemes a fast way to do your bucks

25 June 2009

A quick way to turn a large amount of money into a small one—or none at all—is by playing with sports investments schemes.

That's the warning from a multi-agency taskforce that has been cracking down on sports arbitrage and sports investment scams

"Up to $20 million may have been lost by Australian consumers in such schemes," Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Deputy Chairman, Mr Peter Kell, cautioned.

"As a result the ACCC joined with the Queensland Office of Fair Trading, Queensland Police, the Australian Securities and Investment Commission and the Australian Taxation Office to target these rackets."

Mr Kell was taking part in a joint news conference held to outline the results of the taskforce and to launch a fact sheet to warn consumers Australia-wide to think about how much they could lose if they take part in these schemes.

"These schemes involve gambling on sporting events, usually between two teams.  Promoters claim that by placing one bet for each outcome with different betting companies, it's possible for you to always make a profit.

"Such schemes are littered with words such as 'trading', 'investment', 'recession proof', 'arbitrage' or 'tax free'.

"Consumers believe they are making investments—they aren't—they are gambling their money away with the dice heavily loaded against them," Mr Kell said.

"About half report that once they pay their money, they can't contact the company they dealt with—it simply melts away.

"These schemes are simply nothing more than gambling and in some cases the operator's aim is solely to part you from your money," Mr Kell said.

At the news conference the Queensland Office of Fair Trading detailed the multi-agency Operation Marble, a swoop on a number of Gold Coast 'firms' which proved to include post boxes and serviced offices.

The intelligence gathered in the operation is assisting agencies to devise future strategies for compliance and enforcement actions under their respective legislation.

Queensland Police has a web page to assist the public in providing information specific to arbitrage gambling schemes.  To pass on information about these schemes contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit the online information reporting system at http://www.police.qld.gov.au/SportsArbitrage [link no longer available].

The new Sport 'investment' scams fact sheet will be available from the ACCC website or by calling the ACCC Infocentre on 1300 302 502.

Release number: 
NR 148/09
ACCC Infocentre: 

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