This is the first installment in a five-part series. In Watchdog or Lapdog? we ask some of Australia's top reporters to share their insights from the front line of business journalism.

Australian investors lost almost $40 billion to dubious scammers during the global financial crisis, and that’s just counting the dodgy mortgage and property funds, agribusiness schemes and margin lenders that froze or collapsed into bankruptcy. A tally including the losses racked up by the likes of ABC Learning, Centro, and dearly departed merchant banks like Allco Finance and Babcock & Brown would be much, much higher.