ASIC Cautions Investors Against Switching to an SMSF to Invest in Crypto

January 19, 2022, 10:35 AM AEST - 4 months ago

The Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) has issued a warning to consumers to not rely on people advising to invest in crypto via an SMSF.

SMSFs Are Crypto Scam Targets

There has been an increase in marketing that recommends Australians switch from retail and industry superannuation funds to self-managed super funds (SMSFs) to invest in cryptocurrencies. ASIC cautions investors to be wary of relying on ads and people inciting them to invest in crypto via their SMSF.

Do not rely on social media ads or online contact from someone promoting an ‘investment opportunity’. Be wary of people cold calling, text messaging, or emailing you with a recommendation to transfer your super to an SMSF, or invest in crypto assets via your SMSF.

ASIC

SMSF Association CEO John Maroney told The Australian newspaper that there had been an increase in crypto marketing in recent years, though not specifically relating to SMSFs. Maroney added that according to data from the ATO (Australian Taxation Office), in 2019 crypto represented less than 0.1 percent of SMSF assets. This number had grown significantly since then, Maroney said, consistent with the number of scammers trying to deceive investors through crypto-related ads and marketing.

Before investing in crypto assets, SMSF trustees and members need to consider the level of risk of the investment and ensure [it] is consistent with the fund’s investment strategy and the SMSF’s trust deed.

John Maroney, CEO, SMSF Association

Beware of Unlicensed Crypto Companies and ‘Finfluencers’

The ASIC warning came after it shut down A One Multi Services, an unlicensed financial company in Queensland, in November for buying A$2.4 million worth of cryptocurrency with members’ funds. In August, the regulator had warned investors about investing in unlicensed crypto companies as the number of crypto-related scams had significantly increased in Australia.

Finfluencers have also become a problem for Australians. Finfluencers are celebrities on social media channels such as YouTube, Instagram and TikTok who claim they can help their followers achieve “financial freedom” but without providing any kind of financial advice. This is specially worrisome for young people and newcomers keen to invest in crypto since they tend to be the most vulnerable.

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