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Businessman David Koch Distressed After Woman Loses $250K in Investment Scam That Impersonated Him

Koch reiterated the importance of public awareness and caution in navigating online investment opportunities.
Cover Image Source: Power President David Koch | Getty Images | Photo by Michael Willson
Cover Image Source: Power President David Koch | Getty Images | Photo by Michael Willson

In a heartbreaking turn of events, a woman has lost $250,000 to an online scam featuring the likeness of Australian businessman David Koch, per Yahoo!Finance. The victim, Alison Smyth fell prey to the fraudulent scheme after seeing an advertisement on social media that falsely suggested Koch was endorsing a Bitcoin investment opportunity. David Koch, renowned as the economic director of Compare the Market and chairman of the Port Adelaide AFL club, expressed deep distress upon learning of Smyth's substantial financial loss. Smyth, a dedicated supporter of the Port Adelaide Magpies, was deceived by the scam which misused Koch's image to gain credibility.

Getty Images | Photo by Michael Willson
David Koch | Getty Images | Photo by Michael Willson

This incident underscores a persistent issue where scammers exploit the reputation of well-known figures to deceive unsuspecting individuals. Smyth recounted her unfortunate experience on Channel 7's Spotlight program, revealing how swiftly she found herself out of pocket due to the deceitful advertisement. Koch, who has been a repeated target of such scams, reiterated the importance of public awareness and caution in navigating online investment opportunities. An Adelaide woman, contacted by a man named Ben with an English accent, was drawn into an investment scheme over several weeks. Entrusting her money to this unfamiliar individual in hopes of financial gain, she eventually realized, to her mortification, that she had fallen victim to a scam after all her funds were depleted.

David Koch expressed horror upon learning of Smyth's ordeal, emphasizing the distress of seeing individuals who trust his advice and reputation being exploited by overseas scammers. The economic director of Compare the Market and chairman of Port Adelaide AFL club described the situation as devastating, highlighting the impact on his credibility and expressing heartfelt dismay that a member of his club had been targeted.

Although unable to recover Smyth's lost $250,000, Koch announced his intention to grant her a lifetime membership to Port Adelaide, ensuring she would not face the burden of annual fees. This gesture aims to offer support to Smyth after the scam. Koch is urging social media giants like Meta to take decisive action against scammers who exploit his image to deceive people. This call for action comes following a legal showdown in March 2022 when the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) initiated Federal Court proceedings against Meta, Facebook's parent company. The ACCC alleged that Meta had allowed the dissemination of fraudulent advertisements featuring prominent Australian personalities, including businessman Dick Smith and former NSW premier Mike Baird.

Unsplash | Photo by Max Duzij
Identity theft scams on the rise (representative image) | Unsplash | Photo by Max Duzij

According to ACCC Chair Rod Sims, Meta was accused of engaging in "false, misleading or deceptive conduct" by permitting these scam ads to appear on its platform without adequate measures to address the issue. Sims emphasized that Meta should have taken more proactive steps to detect and remove misleading advertisements, thereby safeguarding consumers from falling prey to unscrupulous scammers. In response, the ACCC disclosed that the National Anti-Scam Centre was collaborating with digital platforms to develop more effective strategies for combating investment scams and enhancing consumer protection measures.

A new report from the Australian Anti Scam Centre reveals Aussies lost $2.7 billion to scams last year despite a slight decrease from the previous record of $3.1 billion. The reported scams rose by 18.5%, predominantly affecting individuals over 65 who incurred the highest losses. Investment scams topped the list, accounting for $1.3 billion in losses, followed by remote access scams ($256 million) and romance scams ($201.1 million). Scamwatch advises vigilance against enticing opportunities, unfamiliar requests for financial aid, messages with links or attachments, high-pressure tactics, unusual payment methods, or requests to create new accounts. Victims should immediately contact their bank to halt transactions and report the scam to Scamwatch and local authorities. Beware of follow-up scams promising restitution. Seek support from financial counselors, BeyondBlue (1300 22 4636), Lifeline (13 11 14), or IDCARE for identity-related assistance.