London asset manager named as latest ‘clone’ target

Boiler-room fraudsters are using the name of a London asset management firm to target UK customers, the Financial Conduct Authority has warned.

In an alert notice on its website the regulator warned that a company calling itself Amber Asset Management is operating out of a London address to scam investors. The firm has no association with legitimately-authorised firm Amber Fund Management Ltd, also based in London.

The FCA warned that the scammers may give out other false details or mix them with some correct details of the authorised firm in order win the confidence of prospective investors, some of whom may be vulnerable or elderly.

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The warning is the latest in a long line of such alerts over ‘clone’ firms that use company details and employee details, often including references to legitimate company websites, and aggressive sales tactics to target vulnerable consumers.

A warning from the regulator last week revealed that York-based IFA firm G & E Wealth Management Ltd has been cloned by a ‘boiler room’ operation calling itself GE Wealth Management, which is based in London and from a website

International advisory firm deVere Group has previously warned that it is being targeted by several fraud groups using both the firm’s name and the names of individuals employed by the firm to target investors. The FCA issued a warning on one such operation last week.

Data provided by the FCA showed October was the worst month of the year for both reports of cloned companies and the number of companies reports related to. After starting the year at 22 in January, the number of reports rose to 33 in October, more than double that of September’s 15.

Included in last week’s tranche of warnings were two firms which may be targeting UK customers despite not being authorised to do so: Washington-based Leighton Corporate Services LLC and London-based McQueen and Bond, also known as Mc Queen and Bond Wealth Management.

Investors who do business with unauthorised firms will not have recourse to the Financial Conduct Authority or Financial Ombudsman Services should things go sour.

Last week the regulator also posted an alert saying it had removed the permissions of SK8 Financial Services and individual Geoffrey Fincher, who had accepted cheques from clients despite having no permission to hold client money.