Don’t Clzone out when you part with your cash
Could you recognise a cloned company scam? Criminals are copying real websites to steal savings.
Could you recognise a cloned company scam?
The National Economic Crime Centre is targeting boomers in the run up to Christmas after latest figures from Action Fraud show more than £36 million has been lost to investment fraud via cloned company scams this year.
Warnings on how to spot and report cloned company investment scams will be shared across the National Crime Agency’s social media channels, with those aged 55 to 70 in mind.
Data shows 34% of this age group were impacted by cloned company investment fraud in the first six months of this year, with average losses of £39,218 per victim.
Investment fraud by way of cloned websites has been on the rise in recent years, with Action Fraud reporting a total of £78 million lost last year – the year of the first coronavirus lockdown.
The crime is committed when fraudsters replicate or clone real company websites by using the name, address and ‘Firm Reference Number’ (FRN) attached to a company and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Once a fake website is up and running, fraudsters typically draw people in with adverts on search engine websites and social media.
The promise is usually of an attractive return on an investment, most commonly on bonds, cryptocurrency and ISAs.
Returns advertised are typically moderate, but just above the market rate, making the adverts appear genuine.
Losses with one particular scam, which used the guise of a popular comparison website, recently totalled £750,000.
Victims of this scam described how they had searched online for investment opportunities, and were presented with an online form, similar to forms typically found on genuine comparison websites.
Those who completed the forms were then contacted by a fraudster purporting to be from a known investment firm. They were able to persuade the victims to invest their savings in non-existent bonds, quoting legitimate company details and even using the identity of actual employees of the company.
The National Economic Crime Centre (NECC), part of the NCA, is working with City of London Police to reinforce steps that the public can take to protect themselves.
- Reject unsolicited investment offers whether made online, on social media or over the phone. Be cautious when dealing with large sums of money, even if you initiated the first contact.
- Always check the FCA Register to make sure you’re dealing with an authorised firm and check the FCA Warning List of firms to avoid.
- Only use the telephone number and email address on the FCA Register, not the contact details the firm gives you. Look out for subtle differences such as letters replaced with numbers (e.g. S and 5, O and 0), additional words, or spelling errors.
- If you have visited a website you think is suspicious, report it to the National Cyber Security Centre, using their quick and easy reporting tool.
- Consider seeking impartial advice before investing.
If you think you’ve fallen victim to an investment fraud, report it to Action Fraud as soon as possible online at http://www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.