A clone refers to a fraudulent attempt by an entity or individual to use the details of an authorized firm in a bid to convince people that they work that firm.
This refers to a relatively new tactic that has seen fraudsters using the name, ‘firm registration number’, and address of firms and individuals authorized by regulators to suggest they are genuine.
Clones are seemingly primitive techniques, though newly adopted by scammers that have evolved in the information era.
As regulators push for greater transparency, registers, and authorization, fraudsters have resorted to clone attempts to try to dupe investors.
Fraudsters are constantly looking for new ways to scam consumers, but one technique that has been increasingly reported to regulators has been clones.
This is a particular issue in the United Kingdom, with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) taking measures to crack down on clone firms.
These scammers typically cold-call investors to promote shares, property or other investment opportunities that are non-tradable, worthless, overpriced, or even non-existent.
How Do Clone Scams Work?
In most jurisdictions, firms need to be authorized to sell, promote, or advise on the sale of shares and other investments.
Some fraudsters simply claim to represent these authorized firms, or even try to change firms’ contact details on registers to look authentic.
The scammers will then give their own phone number, address, and website details to possible victims.
Most commonly, scammers claim to be from overseas firms that appear on the registers as these firms do not always have their full contact and website details listed.
These entities may even copy the website of an authorized firm, making small tweaks or changes such as to the phone number listed.