The Financial Conduct Authority last week issued four new warnings against unauthorised firms that may be targeting UK consumers with seemingly regulated services, including a firm that it says is a clone of a Scotland-based advisory firm.
The FCA warned fraudsters are using the details of authorised firms to try to convince people that they work for a genuine, authorised firm.
Among the warnings was a web-based firm based in Lanarkshire using the internet addresses www.d2fsl.com and www2.d2financialservicesltd.com, which the watchdog said is a clone of FCA authorised d2 Financial Solutions.
The real d2, based in Paisley, Renfrewshire, has been an authorised firm since June 2009. It offers financial planning services on pensions, investments and protection, as well as employee benefits and auto-enrolment advice.
Last year concerns were raised over an increase in cloning activities targeting authorised advice businesses, with the name of international advice firm deVere Group in particular being used by two separate ‘boiler room’ firms.
Other advisers were also targeted and names of employees have also often been used. According to figures released by the FCA, towards the end of last year reports of cloned firms increased significantly.
The other clone firm identified last week by the regulator is Hong Kong-based www.svsfx.com.cn, clone of FCA-authorised SVS Securities PLC; and
Unauthorised firms which may be targeting UK customers include:
• Protected Today; and
• Gold Asset Associates (London);
People who invest in these firms will not have recourse to the Financial Ombudsman Service or Financial Services Compensation Scheme if they feel they have been deceived or unjustly treated, the FCA has said.