As the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Scams can appear in many different forms, targeting both experienced investors and average retail customers alike. They also come in many forms, from an unexpected phone call offering an investment opportunity, to an email encouraging you to buy shares that are about to go up in value based on ‘secret’ information. Alternatively, you might be encouraged to buy shares in a company you have never heard of, often because it does not exist, or perhaps invest in property or a get-rich-quick scheme.
The calls often come from overseas, and while they promise above-average returns, those who invest usually end up losing their money. However, be aware, these scams are also sometimes advertised in newspapers, magazines or online as genuine investment opportunities.
The scammers are usually articulate individuals, who often pretend to be investment advisors or stockbrokers in order to entice interest. The scammers are persistent and play on your emotions, making you feel like a fool if you refuse to invest. You will also often be told that you need to make a quick decision or miss out on the deal.
For more information about the latest types of scams, you may wish to refer to the Financial Investigation Unit's website.
There are a number of steps you can take to protect yourself becoming a victim of an investment scam:
- Reject cold calls. All calls should be treated with extreme caution, and the safest thing you can do is to hang up. Likewise, any emails you receive of this nature should be deleted, or any letters, if they contain personal information, shredded.
- Check the Commission's warning list, to check the firm and the investment it is offering. The warnings list may not include all firms that you should be cautious of, but it is a starting point.
- Check the Regulated Entities page to make sure the firm is regulated and permitted to give financial advice before you proceed, particularly if it is not licensed in the Bailiwick.
- Seek independent financial advice if you are unsure about an investment or financial product. Find out more information about the work of financial advisers (FAs).
It can't be stressed enough - if a proposition sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Reporting a scam
Find out more information about how to report a scam!
If you want any further information on the subject, you may find the following resources useful:
Action Fraud - The homepage of the UK’s national fraud and internet crime reporting centre.
BBC Watchdog – For consumer advice on current financial scams.
Financial Conduct Authority:
- Protect Yourself - For a list of firms unauthorised to operate in the UK.
- Scams – For information about how to spot a scam.
- Scamsmart - FCA - A link to the Financial Conduct Authority's national campaign aimed at protecting those most at risk of investment fraud.
Financial Fraud Action UK – An organisation which works in conjunction with industry, government, and the police, to help the public and businesses protect themselves from financial fraud. It provides information about the various types of payment fraud, advice about lessening your chances of becoming a victim, as well as what to do if you become one.
Guernsey Financial Investigation Unit - For the latest fraud news updates from the FIU.
Know Fraud, No Fraud - BBA – A campaign by the British Bankers' Association to raise awareness about how you can prevent yourself becoming a victim of fraud.
Take Five - A campaign led by Financial Fraud Action UK urging the public to stop and think whether a situation is genuine, and if what you are being told makes sense.
The Little Book of Big Scams – A guide on how to avoid some of the most common scams, produced by the Metropolitan Police Service.
The Little Book of Big Scams, Business Edition - A link to information on scams within businesses.