Northern Territory victim of investment fraud
Case Study published in the Australian Government report by the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) and the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC), July 2012.
Full Report available here.
*Christopher Fulton (Name has been changed to protect the victim's identity).
Lives: Northern Territory
Christopher Fulton* had a plan. The married father of six was going to put his money into the share market, buy an investment property and set his family up for life.
He also had dreams of retiring early and taking his wife on a holiday.
But that all changed two years ago when the family's entire savings were lost to organised crime.
Mr Fulton said it all started when he was contacted by a cold-caller offering him a unique investment opportunity. "I had been looking around for different opportunities to get ahead and then a man claiming to be from a company called Dachser Global Markets started calling me," he said.
"This went on for a couple of months, and at the start I didn't do anything about it."
Mr Fulton said that around the same time that he had been receiving the phone calls, he had attended a business seminar where he learnt about the share market and other investment opportunities. He said he researched Dachser Global Markets online, spoke to his wife about the investment and eventually decided to give it a go.
"At first we put in $5000," Mr Fulton said.
"When I looked on their website I could see my investment trading, it was starting to go up."
Mr Fulton and his wife then went to the bank and took out a $40,000 line of credit against their house. "I don't know why I didn't wake up to it then because Dachser Global Markets were saying 'don't worry about this bit of paperwork, we'll take care of it' or 'we'll deal with that part of the process later'."
But Mr Fulton said the company's website and the sound advice he was receiving via email and over the phone meant any concerns were pushed aside. "I've now come to realise that anybody who rings you up and says they can help you make money can't be trusted," Mr Fulton said.
"Everyone used to say that to me, but at the time I thought they were legitimate, their communication lines were professional they must be legitimate.
"I guess I just got blinded by the thought of the money we were going to make and what we could do with it."
Mr Fulton said he started to realise something wasn't right when the company kept pushing him to invest more money. He said he refused and when he mentioned he was ready to take his money out, the company cut all contact.
The fraud was reported to Northern Territory Police and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.
But for Mr Fulton and his family, the hardship didn't end there.
Twelve months after realising he had lost more than $40,000, Mr Fulton received another cold-call from a man claiming to be a lawyer in New York. The man said he was working for a number of investment fraud victims and would be able to help Mr Fulton get his money back for a fee.
Mr Fulton later found out this man was also involved in serious and organised investment fraud and had been targeting victims in secondary scams with promises to help them recover the money they had lost.
Mr Fulton said this time he refused to give out any of his details over the phone. "The whole thing caused a lot of stress and a lot of embarrassment," he said. "It's been two years, but I still get reminded about how much money we owe. "We now owe more money on the house than we did when we first moved in.
"It's hard to come to terms with losing that much money."