The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has warned the public to be wary of scammers claiming to represent the regulator as part of its shadow shopping exercise.
The financial services regulator has issued a statement warning that scammers are deceiving customers by cold calling them and claiming to be undertaking a shadow shopping exercise on behalf of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).
According to ASIC, scammers are calling customers, claiming to be looking for a “shadow shopper” recruit to purchase financial advice in order to assess market standards.
The regulator has reported that the scammers are promoting their services through the website www.thesecretshopper.com, where the scammers claim that they are “not recruiting on behalf of ASIC”, but are instead working on behalf of clients in the financial services sector.
“In this campaign, you are being asked to become a shadow shopper for some of our Financial Services clients to help them monitor their own compliance and training requirements,” the web page reads.
The perpetrators are offering to pay consumers a minimum of $50 for their time, which, according to their website, could grow to $100 or even $200 for a more extended involvement.
The scammers may also encourage customers to meet in person, attend a presentation or complete a questionnaire.
ASIC has stressed that it has no involvement with the website or its operators and has urged anyone contacted by the scammers not to respond.
The regulator stated: “These scammers claim to be looking for shadow shoppers as part of an ASIC compliance and monitoring campaign. The scam maintains that it will pay you for your time and may encourage you to meet in person or attend a presentation after which you will receive a questionnaire to complete...
“ASIC has no involvement with this website or its operators and is undertaking inquiries into the activities of the operators.
“ASIC urges anyone who receives contact in these circumstances or is referred to this website to not respond.”
The scam could potentially impact broker clients, as ASIC is currently undertaking a shadow shopping exercise into broker advice.
Indeed, the website in question — www.thesecretshopper.com — links to several news stories regarding ASIC’s shadow shop of brokers.
ASIC has added that the scammers have no connection to market research firm www.shadowshopper.com.au.