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Quilter targeted by impersonation scammer

Quilter targeted by impersonation scammer

Quilter is the latest firm to be targeted by a brand impersonation fraudster after its name was used to cold-call a pensions consultancy.

David Brooks, technical director at Broadstone, told FTAdviser he was cold called by someone purporting to be from Quilter about a tax plan to help pay off a mortgage.

The scammer apparently said this plan was something that 60 per cent of people can do but only 2 per cent do because they do not want to read the tax authority’s guide.

Brooks said when he spoke to the fraudster he was well spoken, polite, friendly and was looking to set up another call.

Brooks was planning to go through with this call but the fraudster never sent through an invite.

He said: “[The fraudster] made it sound like he was already helping some of my colleagues. I wasn’t happy that he had my details and he confirmed he’d just taken them from our website.”

Brooks then sent an email to the rest of his colleagues to make them aware of the scam and received about 20 responses from those that had been contacted.

Brooks said: “Some were too busy to speak to him, some sent him off with a flea in his ear, some didn’t answer as it was a withheld number and one already had a Quilter adviser and so [the fraudster] soon ran then.

“I suspect he’s worked out we’re probably not the easiest of targets and moved on.”

A spokesperson from Quilter said the firm had detected this impersonation attempt early, and that its financial crime team was working to investigate the incident.

They added: “Brand impersonation fraud is, unfortunately, an all-too-common occurrence in the financial services sector. While Quilter has experienced few cases over the past year, we do know that across the industry cases are on the rise. 

“Our analysis of the FCA’s warning list found that impersonation scam warnings increased by 47 per cent between 2019 and 2020. Sadly, 2021 looks set to be another record-breaking year. More clone firm warnings have been issued in the first half of 2021 than at the same point in 2020.”

This year Quilter launched its own scam reporting tool which it urged consumers to use if they are unsure of an investment opportunity found online which claims to use any of the company's brands. 

The spokesperson said: “This allows us to detect the attempts quickly and increases the chance we can prevent people from losing money. 

“But we have also been working closely with industry colleagues to raise government awareness of this growing issue, and to campaign for scams to be included in the Online Safety bill."

Data published by Action Fraud in January showed in 2020 individuals reported average losses of £45,242 when investing with fraudsters imitating genuine investment firms.

The industry has come together on scams recently, with 17 groups, including adviser trade body Pimfa, calling for the Online Safety bill to include scam ads as a means of ensuring consumers are better protected against the financial and emotional harm caused by fraudsters.