Investment scams: what to watch out for
Criminals are using the many uncertainties due to coronavirus to sell fake investments.
Published on: 14 August 2020
What are investment scams?
When criminals try to convince you to move money to a fake fund or investment. They often claim you'll see a large amount of money back in return to tempt you.
But there is no investment and you will lose any money you transfer to them.
These scams can include investment in items such as:
- carbon credits
- land banks
What criminals do to appear genuine
They will often pretend to be from a genuine company (called a ‘clone firm’).
To look genuine, they'll use the name, ‘firm registration number’ (FRN) and address of firms and individuals authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
They might also use names and details of real employees working at the firm to make the scam more believable.
How to spot an investment scam
Warning signs that you might have been contacted about an investment scam include:
In the past, scammers cold-called. Now, they might contact you online. This might be by email or social media. They may also contact you by post, or even in person at a seminar or exhibition.
Scammers might offer a bonus or discount if you invest before a set date. Or they might tell you the offer is only available for a short period.
The fraudster may share fake reviews. They might claim other clients have invested or want access to the deal.
Fraudsters often promise tempting returns that sound too good to be true. For example, much better interest rates than elsewhere.
They might use convincing documents and websites, claim to be regulated and speak with authority on investment products.
They may try to build a friendship with you to lull you into a false sense of security.
If an investment opportunity sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Don’t be pressured into making a quick investment decision.
Here are some tips to stay safe:
Check that the firm is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
You can do this by using the register on the FCA’s website (opens in a new window).
Check that it isn’t a ‘cloned company’
Fraudsters can pretend to be a genuine firm. Check for any other websites under the same name.
Make sure you use contact details on the FCA’s register
Do not use the details given to you directly from the company, or by the person who made contact with you.
More help and information
The Financial Conduct Authority has created a guide on investment scams and how to protect yourself.