Australians have sent large sums of money to a Dubai bank account in a bid to buy shares in lithium battery and electric car maker Tesla, but have been scammed.
WA’s Consumer Protection said at least five West Australians had sent $120,000 to Larosa Group in recent months and it is understood more than $2.4 million has been sent by victims across Australia.
In one case, a WA couple lost $45,000 after they searched on the internet on how to invest in Tesla and filled out an online form on the Larosa Group website.
They were contacted the same day by someone claiming to represent the company who advised them to transfer $28,000, then a month later by another person who urged them to make a further payment of $17,000.
No documents confirming the share purchase were ever sent to the couple.
Consumer Protection and Major Crime Squad’s joint investigation has so far confirmed that Larosa Group is not registered with the Dubai Financial Services Authority, images of executives used on the website have been stolen and listed addresses in Dubai and Canada are phoney.
Attempts are being made to close down the website.
Consumer Protection said it feared massive losses.
“We need to urgently warn would-be investors to be aware that this website and the company behind it, Larosa Group, appear to be an elaborate fabrication to deceive and defraud investors whose money is likely to be lost,” Consumer Protection Commissioner Anne Driscoll said.
“Anyone who has had dealings with Larosa Group is urged to make a report to the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network.
“I would also strongly recommend that investors only use licensed financial investment operators when looking to invest their money.”