Investors - particularly those aged over 50 - are being urged by the financial regulator to report suspected fraudulent investment schemes.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has found that one in five (22%) over 55s have not reported suspected fraudulent investment schemes when contacted by potentially dodgy companies in the past three years.
Nearly half of the survey’s respondents who had not done anything (49%) said the reason was because they simply did not know who to report it to.
The FCA is now calling for suspected investment scams to be reported to it at www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart or via its contact centre on 0800 111 6768.
The financial regulator received more than 8,000 reports of potential scams in the last year, with Londoners reporting the highest number. This was followed by people from Birmingham, Belfast, and Guildford.
Mark Steward, director of enforcement at the FCA, comments: “We want to say thank you to everyone who is coming forward to help us crack down on investment scams. It’s clear to see that by reporting suspicious investment schemes to the FCA, people are having a direct impact in helping to stop fraudsters exploiting others. But there is still more we can all do and we need the public’s help.
“We are encouraging people to speak out on behalf of their family or local community, just like they would report a crime in their local area.”
‘If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is’
In order to avoid falling victim to one of these scams, the FCA has published guidance on how to respond when receiving unsolicited contact about investments:
1. Reject unsolicited contact about investments.
2. Before investing, check the FCA Register to see if the firm or individual you are dealing with is authorised and check the FCA Warning List of firms to avoid. The list contains details of nearly 4,000 firms the FCA advises should be avoided.
3. Get impartial advice before investing.
Nick Hewer, a former public relations consultant famous for his appearance as an advisor to Lord Sugar on The Apprentice, is supporting the campaign to raise awareness.
Mr Hewer says: “As someone who has been approached by scammers myself, I know that it’s not always easy to distinguish between a real and a fake investment offer. It’s vital that more people speak out to get these schemes closed for good.
“Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. If you are offered an attractive investment out of the blue, be suspicious, check the FCA’s Warning List and seek impartial advice. Better still, if you get a cold call, just put the phone down!”