The Investment Association (IA) warned vulnerable and at-risk groups today of the potential risks posed to their savings and investments from scams and financial crime during the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to the IA, evidence suggests that some scammers are attempting to use the pandemic to convince savers and investors to withdraw money from their investments.
Investment management firms have seen a noted increase in this criminal activity, previously focused on retail banking customers, the IA said.
It warned of criminals, who are using increasingly aggressive tactics, for example, posing as the police to convince one saver to withdraw the money held in their saving bond.
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More traditional criminal activity is being given a new Covid-19 twist, the IA explained: “Investment managers have noticed a spike in phishing emails, with Covid-19-related themes, to steal personal and financial data. One firm’s anti-spam software detected 513 different files containing malware with coronavirus in their title by the end of March.”
Phising and smishing
Similar to phishing, smishing is another way to trick investors into giving away personal and financial information or money. Text messages are being sent to clients and investors, impersonating trusted organisations.These scam texts claim to be from government departments, investment managers, banks or ‘establishment’ organisations, offering payments or claiming to be issuing fines related to Covid-19.
“Sadly, criminals never miss a trick, and so during this time of heightened criminal activity, we are urging savers and investors to think very carefully about the risks criminals pose to their financial wellbeing and life-long savings,” Chris Cummings, CEO of the Investment Association, said.
“If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. That’s why today we are reminding savers and investors to take all necessary, vigilant steps to protect their hard-earned savings from ruthless financial criminals,” he added.
The IA has urged those suspicious of fraudulent activity to follow the advice of the National Crime Agency and ‘stop, challenge and protect’.