What is investment fraud?
- Investment fraud is where criminals attempt to steal the money you want to invest.
- They contact people out of the blue via phone, email or text, or advertise online using websites and social media. They’ve been known to clone genuine investment firm websites or use paid advertising to lure customers to a fake investment webpage.
- Criminals can be articulate and financially knowledgeable, with credible-looking websites, testimonials and materials that are hard to distinguish from the real thing.
- 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.
What to look out for
- Be wary of unexpected investment phone calls, even if they seem to be giving you details you think only a genuine investment company would have, e.g. previous investment and share information. Fraudsters make it their business to know about you before they make contact. Never be afraid to hang up.
- Don’t be pressured by ‘time limited offers’. It’s often a trick to make you act quickly without having the chance to research.
- Never use the financial advisor that may be suggested by the company offering the financial product.
- 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. You can search by entering its name, reference number (FRN number) or postcode.
- Criminals have been known to copy FRN numbers and encourage victims to check the FCA register to make them look like they are acting on the behalf of a legitimate firm. Don’t be fooled, make sure to double check they are not a ‘clone firm’.
- Check online to see if there are any warnings and criticism about the company. If you’re uncertain, run a search for the name of the website and include the words “scam”, “fraud” or “fake”.
- Double-check the website address (URL) and contact details of a firm in case it’s a ‘clone firm’ pretending to be a real firm.
- Never get talked into an investment. Always check independently. Seek reputable independent/legal advice before you commit to an investment.
Actions you can take
- Share this page with family members and colleagues, so they know what to look out for.
- Put training in place, so people in your business know how to spot and handle common threats. You can use our webinars and resources to help.
- Visit the FCA “ScamSmart” website which gives you tips on how to spot the techniques used by fraudsters.
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.