How does the fraud happen?
Investment fraud is where criminals steal the money you want to invest. They often make promises of great returns when investing in schemes, shares and commodities. The problem is the schemes are often worthless or don't exist at all.
Criminals can be articulate and financially knowledgeable, with credible-looking websites, testimonials and materials that are hard to distinguish from the real thing, they have been known to clone genuine investment firm websites or use paid advertising to lure customers to a fake investment website.
What to look out for:
Investment scams can be hard to spot. Criminals often contact people out of the blue via phone, email or text, or even advertise online. A common tactic used by criminals is to promote “investment” opportunities via social media accounts.
Never respond to any unsolicited emails and don’t click on any links or attachments within them.
Unexpected phone calls by someone you don’t know, trying to sell you investments. Treat all unsolicited phone calls with suspicion – never be afraid to hang up.
People you don’t know who know a lot about you or they appear to be giving you details you think only a genuine investment company would have e.g. previous investment and share information – criminals will do their homework and make it their business to know as much about you as possible before they contact you.
People saying they’re from well-known investment companies - be sure to check independently.
Be wary of ‘Time limited offers’ as criminals are known to deploy high pressure sales tactics to make you act quickly without having the chance to research or conduct further due diligence.
How to protect yourself and your business:
Never be talked into an investment always check everything independently of a friend, colleague or family advice. Word of mouth can be a danger as a person may be unaware, they have been a victim of fraud but may entice their friends and work colleagues to invest.
Seek reputable independent/legal advice before you commit to an investment. Never use the financial advisor that may be suggested by the company offering the financial product.
Only transact with people you trust, if you're looking to invest with a company or person you don't know and trust, carry out some research first.
You can search the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) list of unauthorised businesses which is updated regularly to check if the company is regulated by the FCA. They list businesses believed to be involved in fraudulent activities.
Make sure the firm you use is on the FCA register and is allowed to give financial advice.
Check they are not a clone - a common fraud is to pretend to be a genuine FCA authorised firm (called a ‘clone firm’). Always use the contact details on the Register, not the details the firm or advisor provides.
For more information about how to invest safely, you can visit FCA “ScamSmart” website. The ScamSmart website, gives consumers tips on how to spot the techniques used by fraudsters and hosts the FCA Warning List.
Always think twice and make double checking second nature.
Take Five to stop fraud
Take Five is a national campaign that offers straight-forward and impartial advice to help everyone protect themselves from preventable financial fraud. This includes email deception and phone-based scams as well as online fraud – particularly where criminals impersonate trusted organisations.