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David Koch 'devastated' after woman loses $250,000 to scam with his face on it

He's called on social media media companies to do better as Aussies were fleeced $2.7 billion in scams last year.

David Koch has been "devastated" to hear about a woman losing her life savings after she thought he was spruiking an online scheme. The Compare the Market economic director has been targeted by scammers for years as they use his face to lure in unsuspecting Aussies.

The latest victim was Alison Smyth, who saw an advert on social media that said 'see what Kochie's doing with his Bitcoin'. The former Sunrise presenter is the chairman of Port Adelaide AFL club and, being a die-hard Magpies supporter, Smyth thought the ad was legitimate.

She told Channel 7's Spotlight programme it wasn't long before she was out of pocket $250,000.

Alison Smyth next to insert of David Koch
Alison Smyth clicked on a social media advert thinking David Koch was going to give her financial tips. But she ended up losing her life savings. (Source: Channel 7/Getty)

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The Adelaide woman was contacted by a man called Ben, who had an English accent. Over several weeks, he explained how he would help her invest her money in a variety of schemes.

She put her trust in the unknown man and transferred her funds in the hope she would be rich.

It was only after all her money was gone that she realised she had been scammed and was "mortified".

Kochie was horrified when he was told of Smyth's situation.

"People who trust me and trust what I say and look at me and say 'wow, I'm getting some comfort out of what this bloke is saying', are then getting ripped off by some scammer from overseas," he told Spotlight.

"It's devastating because it's my reputation and these scams are so good."

He added that it was heartbreaking that this happened to a member of his AFL club.

“Port Adelaide members are all part of a big family. And the fact that these scammers use my association with the club to prey on members is just abhorrent," he said.

While he couldn't get her $250,000 back, he revealed he would give Smyth a lifetime membership to Port Adelaide so she didn't have to worry about affording it every year.

Kochie is calling on social media companies like Meta to crack down on scammers using his image to trick people.

In March 2022, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) brought Federal Court proceedings against Facebook's parent company over its publication of scam ads featuring prominent Aussie public figures, such as businessman Dick Smith and former NSW premier Mike Baird.

The ACCC accused Meta of engaging in “false, misleading or deceptive conduct” by publishing the ads, and argued the company was aware the scam ads were being displayed on Facebook but hadn't taken sufficient steps to address the issue.

“The essence of our case is that Meta is responsible for these ads that it publishes on its platform,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said at the time.

“Meta should have been doing more to detect and then remove false or misleading ads on Facebook, to prevent consumers from falling victim to ruthless scammers.”

The ACCC said the National Anti-Scam Centre was working with digital platforms on better ways to combat investment scams.

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Aussies lost $2.7 billion to scams last year, with 601,000 cons reported to authorities, according to a new report from the Australian Anti Scam Centre.

That's down from a record $3.1 billion the year previous, however, the number of scams reported went up by 18.5 per cent. Over 65s were the hardest hit and only group to take a higher loss in the last year.

Investment scams are the most prolific, with $1.3 billion lost, followed by remote access scams ($256m) and romance scams ($201.1m).

Scamwatch warns to beware of the following scenarios:

  • It’s an amazing opportunity to make or save money

  • Someone you haven’t met needs your help - and money

  • The message contains links or attachments

  • You feel pressured to act quickly

  • They ask you to pay in an unusual or specific way

  • They ask you to set up new accounts or Pay ID

Contact your bank and report the scam. Ask them to stop transactions and stop sending any money.

Report the scam to Scamwatch here and make an official complaint to police here.

Watch out for follow up scams, particularly ones promising they can get your money back. Scamwatch warned one in three victims of a scam are scammed more than once.

Lastly, get support for yourself. You can talk to a financial counsellor or reach out to BeyondBlue on 1300 22 4636 or here for an online chat or Lifeline for crisis support online here on 13 11 14.

You can also contact IDCARE to “reduce the harm they experience from the compromise and misuse of their identity information by providing effective response and mitigation”.