Beware of 'clone firms' posing as investment companies
Fraudsters are targeting investors by stealing the reputations of regulated UK investment companies and duping unsuspecting investors into buying worthless investments.
The so-called ‘clone firms' were highlighted in an alert to consumers issued by City regulator the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
But if you deal with a firm that is not authorised – one not regulated by the FCA – you will not be covered by the Financial Ombudsman Service or the Financial Services Compensation Scheme should things go wrong.
The deVere Group is one of several fully authorised, regulated, and high-profile organisations that has been ‘cloned'.
Nigel Green, founder and chief executive of the company, said: "We've had clients phoning us who had suspected something was wrong." He told BBC Radio 5 Live scammers had copied the company's website, logo, business cards and email addresses.
The FCA said the five legitimate firms that had been cloned recently are: Astorg Partners SAS/Astorg Partners UK; Benefit Planners International SPLR; Charles Schwab UK Limited; deVere and Partners (UK) Limited; and SFVA Sarl. In all cases, the clones have almost identical company names.
For a full list of unregulated firms operating in the UK, check the FCA's website at fca.org.uk.
If you have any doubts about a financial services company, you can also call the FCA's consumer helpline on 0800 111 6768.
A type of derivative often lumped together with options, but slightly different. The original derivative was a future used by farmers to set the price of their produce in advance before they sowed the seeds so that after the harvest, crops would be sold at the pre-agreed price no matter what the movements of the market. So a future is a contract to buy or sell a fixed quantity of a particular commodity, currency or security (share, bond) for delivery at a fixed date in the future for a fixed price. At the end of a futures contract, the holder is obliged to pay or receive the difference between the price set in the contract and the market price on the expiry date, which can generate massive profits or vast losses.
If you’ve have a complaint about a financial service product you have bought but the company you bought it from refuses to resolve your problem after eight weeks, the Ombudsman can help. The Ombudsman will investigate and resolve the matter. The Ombudsman is independent and its service is free to consumers. The Ombudsman may find in the company’s favour but consumers don’t have accept its decision and are always free to go to court instead. But if they do accept an Ombudsman’s decision, it is binding both on them and on the business.