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Spotting scams

Investment scams

What are Investment Scams?

Investment scams are one of the many ways criminals try and steal your money. They try to convince you to invest in a scheme, shares, or commodities, which either don’t exist, or aren’t worth the money paid for them. These scams are becoming increasingly common and can take a variety of forms, so it's really important you know how to spot them.

Common types of investment scams

Whilst it's really important to be cautious of any approach asking you to invest, the following are some of the more common scams we see.

Cryptocurrency investments

These tend to take place via cold calls or adverts on social media - often using the images of celebrities or well-known individuals to promote them. The ads then link to professional-looking websites and customers are persuaded to make investments with the firm using cryptocurrencies or traditional currencies.

Clone investment firms

A firm needs to be authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK or the equivalent regulator in your country to promote or advise on the sale of shares and other investments. Some fraudsters claim to represent authorised firms or even try to change firms’ contact details on the register to appear genuine.

Recovery scams

This occurs when fraudsters contact a previous investment fraud victim and offer to recover their lost investment, usually in exchange for an advance fee. Therefore, if you've been a victim of investment fraud you should remain vigilant with future approaches offering investments as they will more than likely be a scam.

Things to look out for

Scams are becoming increasingly sophisticated however by keeping an eye out for the following you can protect yourself and your money.

Unexpected contact

Receive a call from someone you don’t know, who seems to know a lot about you. This doesn't mean they're who they say they are.  If you're not sure, hang up the phone!

Time pressure applied

You may be promised a discount if you invest by a certain date however don't let this pressure you. Always think it through carefully and seek independent advice. 

Pop up adverts

Ads that pop up while you’re browsing the internet, offering investments with well-known banks and asking you to fill out a form. Always contact the bank directly.

Steps to protect yourself

If you're planning on investing, it's really important you follow our advice below to help protect yourself from scams. 

  1. 01

    Seek reputable, independent financial advice before you commit to an investment. Never take advice from the company that contacted you directly.

  2. 02

    Before you hand over money ensure the firm you use is on the FCA Financial Services Register or the equivalent register in your country and is allowed to give financial advice. You should also verify any contact details via the register too. If they're not on here, or the details don't match, it's likely a scam.

  3. 03

    Check the FCA list of unauthorised businesses which is updated regularly or a similar list issued by your country’s regulator. They list businesses believed to be involved in fraudulent activities. You can also carry out further scam checks on this website.

  4. 04

    Be cautious of all unexpected calls, emails, and text messages. Don’t assume they’re genuine, even if the person seems to know a lot about you or your previous investments.

If you think you've handed money or personal details over to a scammer, we're here to help. It's important you contact us straight away.