Environmentally conscious businesses are being scammed by a false carbon credit investment fund named WesternField Holdings, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
ACCC deputy chairman, Peter Kell, said the scam may cost local businesses $3.5 million and warned more losses are expected due to its sophistication and targeting of green-friendly companies.
“[The scam] involves overseas-based telemarketers making unsolicited calls to Australian consumers and businesses to ask their views on current environmental concerns and whether they would consider investing in environmental projects,” he said in a statement.
“Those who express an interest are then contacted by someone claiming to work for the bogus Japanese-based business, WesternField Holdings, and offered an opportunity to ‘invest’ in projects which generate carbon credits.”
The alleged scammers also run a slick corporate website, which re-posts global carbon credit news, features, well-written product descriptions and quarterly reports. But according to Kell, the ‘investment certificates’ offered for purchase are never provided and some people are told they will only get refunds if they give more money.
“Many of the consumers who have ‘invested’ with WesternField Holdings are small business operators, self-funded retirees and individuals hoping to find an ethical investment opportunity,” he added. “They have handed their hard-earned money to a group of overseas fraudsters.
“Anyone who receives an unsolicited call from WesternField Holdings should immediately hang up.”
WesternField Holdings was contacted by ARN for a response, but did not respond by time of publication.