Don’t lose out on investment frauds

Published: 27 February 2013

Staff in the council’s community safety team are advising residents to heed a new crime prevention message highlighting the dangers of investment fraud.

The message is part of a campaign being run by the British Bankers' Association (BBA), and the City of London Police's National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) to tackle a crime that has seen some people swindled out of their entire life's savings.

Fraudsters use high pressure cold calling techniques or unsolicited emails to persuade victims to put  their cash in a variety of "investment opportunities" ranging from shares, land, carbon credits, wine and even gold and diamonds, with the common theme being that they are either massively overpriced or simply do not even exist.

Detectives investigating these cons have come across cases where victims have lost sums ranging from a few thousand pounds up to several million - destroying both their retirement and their health.

And it is not just the novice investor who can be duped in this way. Research shows that the majority of share sale fraud victims are experienced investors. The Financial Services Authority (FSA) estimates that up to £500 million is defrauded from victims in the UK every year.

The Director of the NFIB Det Supt Dave Clark, said: "Investment fraud is a particularly dangerous and destructive crime, with organised crime gangs conning some of the most vulnerable people in our society out of savings that had been put aside to support them in old age. Victims from all corners of the UK are seeing their retirements completely ruined and their health badly affected.

"The investment "opportunities" are constantly evolving, ranging from shares to land to carbon credits to precious metals, but the objectives of the fraudsters remain the same - take all the money they can possibly get.

"Collectively we need to be detecting and disrupting the criminal networks behind these frauds and raising awareness amongst the public of the current threat. Our advice sheet has been designed by the NFIB and BBA to help people spot the warning signs and stop themselves becoming the latest victims.

"The simplest way to do this is just hang up if you are cold-called by someone claiming to be offering a great investment opportunity. Do that and your savings stay where they should be - in your bank account."