Residents of the United Kingdom lost more than £197 million in investment scams in 2018, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has revealed this Wednesday. This figure, which is based on 6,759 reports during the year and data from Action Fraud, translates to an average loss of £29,000 per person.
It may come as no surprise to you that the most commonly reported scams were in the foreign exchange (forex), cryptocurrency, shares and bond sectors by firms that are not authorized by the FCA. Together, these industries accounted for 85 percent of all suspected investment scams reported in 2018.
As Finance Magnates has previously reported, the tactics of scammers are changing. Traditionally, scammers preferred method of contact was cold-calling people; however, now fraudsters are more commonly reaching out via online channels such as social media, email, and websites.
The Six Warning Signs, Outlined by the FCA
Seeking the advice of Alvin Hall, a personal finance expert, the FCA has outlined the following methods categorized as the “six warning signs” that scammers use to try to solicit funds from unsuspecting residents:
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- Unexpected contact – Traditionally scammers cold-call but contact can also come from online sources.
- Time pressure – They might offer you a bonus or discount if you invest before a set date or say the opportunity is only available for a short period.
- Social proof – They may share fake reviews and claim other clients have invested or want in on the deal.
- Unrealistic returns – Fraudsters often promise tempting returns that sound too good to be true, such as much better interest rates than elsewhere.
- False authority – Using convincing literature and websites, claiming to be regulated, speaking with authority on investment products.
- Flattery – Building a friendship with you to lull you into a false sense of security.
Commenting on the data, Director of Action Fraud, Pauline Smith, said: “These statistics show that investment fraud is a major threat, with fraudsters doing everything they can to manipulate potential victims into making investments.”
“Victims are often coerced or persuaded into parting with significant amounts of money and this can have a devastating impact on their wellbeing and finances.”
“We are working with the FCA to raise awareness of investment fraud and would urge anyone who is considering in investing to check with the FCA before parting with their money.”
Investors are More at Risk at the Beginning of the Year, FCA Warns
The FCA warns consumers that the beginning of the year is particularly treacherous for investors, as it is peak investment season, so they should be particularly cautious when investing. One way to protect yourself is to check the British regulator’s warning list, before investing with a trading provider.
The data released today is part of the UK regulator’s ScamSmart campaign, which is seeking to educate investors on how to avoid investment fraud and urge consumers to check its dedicated website.