The forces are backing a national campaign
Last updated 6 hours ago
Police in Surrey and Hampshire are backing a national campaign to highlight investment fraud and have issued a warning to check thoroughly before investing.
The campaign is spearheaded by partner agencies including the National Economic Crime Centre, City of London Police and the Financial Conduct Authority
It comes as figures of reports increased in 2020 compared to the year before – with a spike in the summer following the first national lockdown.
Investment fraud typically starts with an unsolicited phone call from someone claiming to be from an investment company. They try to persuade the victim to invest in materials like diamonds or rare metals, land or alternative energy, with the promise of large returns on their money. The victim is encouraged to invest large sums of money, sometimes their pension or life savings, only to lose the whole sum.
Surrey Police say victims in the county lost an average of £21,000 to scams last year.
Officers say some are ‘clone firms’ which appear authentic – with fraudsters pretending to represent investment companies which the victim may have invested in before.
In Hampshire, victims of clone firms scams lost an average of just under £32,000 each last year.
Superintendent Sanjay Andersen, from the City of London Police’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, said:
“The coronavirus pandemic has caused many people to feel financial worry and uncertainty – something which criminals will feel no remorse about capitalising on. We have sadly seen an increase in the number of investment fraud reports in 2020, compared to the previous year, with a spike in reports in the summer, after the first national lockdown was lifted.
“This new trend of ‘clone firms’ is particularly worrying as it makes it harder for people to spot a scam. Investing any amount of money comes with an element of risk and its important people take time to do their research by visiting www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart and seek independent impartial advice from an expert.
“If you think you’ve already invested into a fraudulent scheme, report it to Action Fraud.”
Police have issued the following advice on how to protect yourself:
Even though two in five (38%) investors said they would check the company’s Firm Reference Number (FRN), checking this alone isn’t enough. Criminals carrying out ‘clone firm’ investment scams will often copy FRN numbers and encourage victims to check the number on the Financial Conduct Authority Register to prove their legitimacy.
Anyone considering an investment opportunity should double-check all the details of a firm, not just the FRN, on the FCA register. This includes the telephone number and it is important you only use the number on the FCA Register to make contact with the firm.
If you’re looking to make an investment, check that the person or company are who they say they are by using the Financial Conduct Authority’s smart scam list
Legitimate investment companies will never cold call
If the investment opportunity seems to come from a reputable firm, contact the firm yourself with the phone number listed on their official website to check
Fraudsters will contact you repeatedly to build trust – don’t give them anything and hang up or delete their messages
If a loved one has made large or repeat payments out of the blue, talk to them about the nature of the payments and check they aren’t a scam.
If you think you’ve fallen victim to an investment fraud, report it to Action Fraud as soon as possible online at www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.
Police also urge anyone to contact them directly on 101, if they feel they, or the person they are reporting on behalf of, is particularly vulnerable – and to always call 999 in an emergency.