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A national campaign warns UK investors they risk falling victim to thousands of pounds of fraud if they fail to take simple steps to check who they’re investing with. The campaign, led by Action Fraud – a national fraud and internet crime reporting centre – estimates that £1.2 billion is lost nationally to investment fraud every year.
Figures collected as part of the nationwide campaign show that almost half (49pc) of the men surveyed aged 36+, a group most likely to have made investments, admit to having given out personal details before checking the credentials of the person who contacted them. Only 57pc are confident they can tell the difference between fraudulent and genuine offers.
As part of a national call to action, entitled ‘The Devil’s in Their Details’, the Government and the private sector have come together to advise investors of the steps they can take to identify and avoid these scams.
Action Fraud has teamed up with industry bodies including Financial Fraud Action UK (FFA UK), representing the banks and wider financial services sector, and regulators including the Financial Services Authority (FSA) to raise awareness amongst those at greatest risk of falling victim to fraud.
The campaign also features an online video created to provide a vivid illustration highlighting the risk a person faces if they don’t check before they invest.
Demonstrating the extent of under-reporting, Action Fraud has received reports of £15.5m of money lost to investment fraud during the last six months. However, according to the FSA, only an estimated 10% of these investment crimes are reported, with victims often failing to overcome a sense of shame and stigma before making a report, and the actual number and amounts lost are much higher.
A victim of fraud, who lost over £1.5million to an investment scam and wishes to remain anonymous, said: “When a high-flying son of a family friend approached us about investing in a group of companies he was involved in we had no reason not to trust him.
“We invested a small amount of money first and were regularly updated on how our money was growing – and were even able to take some money back out of the company; all increasing the authenticity and resulting in us continuing to invest.
“When we tried to take all of our money out, we were fobbed off with excuses. I grew increasingly ill with the stress and the fear of losing the family home. My doctor advised me to take some time to get better before confronting my money situation. A year later, one of the companies in this group no longer existed – the directors had apparently all moved on – that’s when I reported it to Action Fraud.
“In total I lost over £1.5 million to this scam and I’m still trying to recover this – I would urge other people to report as soon as they have a suspicion that their investment isn’t for real – the sooner they do the sooner the police can work towards making sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.”
For advice or to report a fraud call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 to speak to an advisor or visit www.actionfraud.police.uk.