They might get in touch with you if you have shown interest in their fake firm on social media, or found them using a google search. Or they might just call you out of the blue. They might say they can offer you a big return in a short amount of time. These criminals can be very convincing.
Warning signs to look for that can help you to spot a possible investment fraud:
- an unexpected email, message or cold call offering any form of investment. Did you know cold calling to sell you shares or investments is illegal?
- 'Limited time only' offers that don't give you enough time to think the investment through
- a pushy and persistent sales technique
- company names which sound familiar or have a slight change to a legitimate company that is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority. These are known as clone companies.
- A company that wants you to keep your investment a secret to get maximum returns.
The FCA has created ScamSmart, an online tool to help consumers find out if their investment is a scam or not. It aims to help you understand whether the company you're going to invest with is regulated by the FCA. It helps you rule out if it could be a cloned/spoofed company. Remember, you must carry out your own due diligence checks on the company.
How to keep yourself safe
- Check it out. Check the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) register. You should use their ScamSmart tool to check the investment and the company are regulated.
- Avoid clones and fakes. Confirm you're dealing with a genuine and registered firm. Only use the contact details for a firm that are on the FCA register.
- Stay in control. Avoid uninvited investment offer. These could be made on social media or over the phone. Research the company first and think about getting independent financial advice. You should always check the IFA firm and people you're dealing with are genuine.
- Take extra crypto care. Never let anyone set up a cryptocurrency wallet or upload ID documents. Make sure you don't let anyone remotely manage an investments for you.
- Don't assume it's real. If a website, advert or social media post looks professional, it doesn't mean they are genuine. Well-known brands or people can be cloned to make scams look real.
- Never download software or apps that allow someone remote access to any of your devices. When you allow remote access you give the person full access to see what you can.
Visit the FCA website to learn more about how to avoid investment scams and protect yourself.
Remember: If something sounds too good to be true, it's probably a scam.