Romanian authorities became suspicious of a man in Australia who was transferring millions of dollars to a business in Romania. They asked AUSTRAC to investigate the man’s financial activities, which showed that he was the victim of an ‘advance fee’ investment scam.
What to look out for
- High volume of international funds transfers from Australia for no apparent reason.
- International funds transfers to a high-risk jurisdiction.
An Australian came to the attention of Romanian authorities for transferring millions of dollars to a business based in Romania.
Upon request, AUSTRAC investigated the financial activities and found the person was the victim of an ‘advance fee’ investment scam. In this type of scam, victims are approached and deceived into sending ‘advance fee’ payments or giving their bank account details with the promise of money from unlikely sources such as overseas lottery wins or inheritances.
The Australian, a man in his 70s had been withdrawing large sums of money from his retirement savings to make the transfers, which AUSTRAC discovered were being made to five businesses in Hong Kong, Bulgaria and Romania.
AUSTRAC found multiple complaints about these businesses online, alleging their involvement in an advance fee fraud. A review of their international funds movement revealed another 125 Australians who were likely to be victims.
AUSTRAC shared financial intelligence with our Fintel Alliance partners, alerting them to the scam and leading them to blacklist the five overseas businesses. We also provided intelligence to our counterparts in Romania, Hong Kong and Bulgaria to enable them to carry out criminal investigations and help Australian banks and the victims to recover funds.