Make sure you're investment ScamSmart

Make sure you're investment ScamSmart

We're always being told to be careful of scams targeting our pensions, investments and bank accounts. But if it happened to you, would you recognise a scam for what it is?

Well, 22% of over 55s and 32% of over 75s think they have been targeted by a scam in the last three years. And the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) says victims of investment fraud lost an average of £32,000 each last year.

See also: Police forces warn over contactless fraud

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Now the FCA is urging everyone, but particularly people over 55 who are able to take advantage of pension freedoms, to check investment opportunities are legitimate before handing over money.

Former advisor to Lord Sugar on The Apprentice, Nick Hewer, who is supporting the FCA's ScamSmart campaign, said: "I am outraged at the persistent threat investment scams pose on society, especially those over 55 who are the prime target for these callous criminals.

"I have been targeted by these scammers myself so I'm not surprised to see how many other people have also been approached. The amount of money that is being lost by victims is extremely worrying, which makes it all the more important that this issue is tackled."

The scary thing is, even perfectly sensible people with experience of investing can get fooled.

Retiree Derek lost £6,000. The scammer took the time to build a trusting relationship before encouraging him to invest even more before leaving with the money.

Richard, a former Civil Servant with an investment background, lost more than £20,000. Scammers drew him into handing over more money by paying him a regular return on his initial investment before disappearing.

So what can you do to avoid scams?

The FCA recommends three simple rules.

  1. Reject unsolicited contact about investments.
  2. Check to see if firm or individual you are dealing with is FCA registered or on the warning list.
  3. Get impartial advice before investing.

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.

Victims of scams and fraud
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Victims of scams and fraud
Susan Tollefsen, Britain's oldest first time mother, was scammed out of £160,000 by a fraudster she met on an online dating site. A man claiming to be an Italian gold and diamond dealer told her he was in the middle of a land deal but couldn't access cash. Tollefsen felt sorry for him and started wiring him money, eventually selling her jewellery, her flat and borrowing £32,000 from friends to give him. Read the full story here.
In March 2015 an American woman who was only identified as 'Sarah' went on the popular US television programme the Dr Phil Show to reveal she had sent $1.4 million to a man that she had never met. Although she was certain she wasn't being scammed, her cousin made her go on the programme because she was convinced it was a scam. Find out more about the story here.
Maggie Surridge employed Lee Slocombe to lay a £350 deck in her garden in March 2015. However Slocombe used a combination of lies to scam Surridge out of thousands of pounds. He told Surridge that the front and back walls were dangerous and needed rebuilding and also conned her into building a porch, all for the cost of £8,500. Read the full story here.
It's not just individuals who can be the victims of scams, big corporations can also fall foul of these fraudulent practices. In 2015 Claire Dunleavy repeatedly used a 7p 'reduced' sticker to get significant amounts of money off her shopping at an Asda store in Burslem, ending up with her paying just £15.66 for a shop that should have cost £69.02. Read the full story here.
Sylvia Kneller, 76, was conned out of £200,000 over the space of 56 years thanks to scam mail. The pensioner became addicted to responding to the fraudsters, convinced that she would one day win a fortune. Ms Kneller would receive letters claiming she had won large sums of money but she needed to send processing fees to claim her prize. Learn about the full story here
Leslie Jubb, 103, became Britain's oldest scam victim in August last year when he was conned out of £60,000 after being sent an endless stream of catalogues promising prizes in return for purchasing overpriced goods. The extent of this con was discovered when Mr Jubb temporarily moved into a care home and his family discovered what he had lost. Find out more about this story here
Stephen Cox won more than £100,000 on the National Lottery in 2003 but has been left with nothing after falling victim to two conmen. The 63-year-old was pressured into handing over £60,000 to the men who told him his roof needed fixing. They walked him into banks and building societies persuading him to part with £80,000 of cash while doing no work in return. See the full story here
Last year the Metropolitan Police released CCTV footage of a woman who had £250 stolen at a cash machine in Dagenham. The scam involved two men distracting the woman at the machine, pressing the button for £250 then taking the money and running away. Read about the full story here.
Rebecca Ferguson shot to fame as a runner up on the X-Factor in 2010 but fell victim to a scam artist last year when someone she had believed to be a friend conned her out of £43,000. Rachel Taylor befriended the singer in 2012 and claimed to be a qualified accountant, so Ferguson allowed her to look after her finances. Instead of doing this Taylor stole £43,000 from the Liverpudlian singer. Read more here
When Rebecca Lewis discovered her fiance had started a relationship with a woman he met online she packed her bags to leave. But that didn't stop her checking out the mystery woman, Rebecca quickly realised Paul Rusher's new love was actually part of a romance scam. She told Paul just before he sent the scammers £2,000 which was supposed to bring his new girlfriend to England. Find the full story here.

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