7 November 2017
Transcript - #2017061, 2017

Report by David Coady, ABC Radio National

Interviewees: Michael McCormack, Federal Small Business Minister; Professor Mark Button, Centre for Counter Fraud Studies, University of Portsmouth; Professor Jack Anderson, Sports Law, University of Melbourne

SABRA LANE:

As many Australians prepare to have a flutter on the Melbourne Cup today, authorities are warning punters to watch out for scams. The ACCC Scamwatch has received more than 180 reports of scams related to betting and sports investments this year and it's often a case of the scammers promise being too good to be true like providing a system that will accurately predict the winner of the cup.

David Coady has more.

DAVID COADY: 

Horses and jockeys will soon be racing down the track at Flemington and in the lead-up many Australians will be racing to place their bets. But the Federal Small Business Minister Michael McCormack, is urging punters to pause for thought.

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

This year already, Scamwatch - which is run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the ACCC - has received 184 reports of betting and sports investment schemes. Nearly $1.6 million has already been lost.

DAVID COADY: 

Not only are there betting sites located offshore and out of reach of Australian regulation, there are also scammers promising people a sure bet.

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

They try to sell people software which promises to accurately predict sporting results. For example the Melbourne Cup winner.

DAVID COADY: 

Plus there are schemes where people are offered the chance to get involved in sports investments that don't exist. Professor Mark Button, from the Centre for Counter Fraud Studies at the University of Portsmouth in the UK has been investigating the scams.

MARK BUTTON:

Horses are very ingenious and entrepreneurial and at one end you might see completely fake websites that look like gambling websites, you will see various forms of bogus tipsters and gambling clubs which will claim to offer almost guaranteed returns, you will see bogus gambling syndicates where individuals are brought into a scheme where they might have to pay money.

DAVID COADY: 

Why are gamblers such a good target for fraudsters?

MARK BUTTON:

If you're prepared to take a risk to make money that's something that is almost immediately going to put you into the sights of a fraudster because they're going to offer you some kind of feel with a better return involving some kind of risk.

DAVID COADY: 

Then there are the issues that come with gambling to excess. Jack Anderson is a professor of sports law at the University of Melbourne.

JACK ANDERSON:

The key concern at present is those who've become addicted to gambling - in terms of problem gambling - come from a particular socioeconomic background. They can be quite vulnerable to this. So that's a general social problem as well as a sporting issue.

DAVID COADY: 

Jack Anderson is urging people to stick to the major bookies and online services if they choose to gamble today. It's advice supported by the Minister Michael McCormack.

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

Bet with the people you know, either the TAB or on-course Tote or bookmakers and if you're an amateur gambler and you really don't know what you're doing, just take part in an office sweep.

SABRA LANE:

The Small Business Minister Michael McCormack ending David Coady's report