Beware of 'clone firms' posing as investment companies

29 May 2013

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).

The five clones were found by the FCA to be posing as legitimate companies in order to sell investors advice and arrange deals in investments such as bonds, stocks and shares, futures and options.

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

If you have any doubts about a financial services company, you can also call the FCA's consumer helpline on 0800 111 6768.

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