Investment fraud up 70% on last year

Investment fraud up 70% on last year

Savers have been duped out of £51m from investment fraud in the first quarter of the new tax year, 70 per cent more than in the same period last year, City of London Police figures show.

The sum taken from investors between April and June 2018, jumped from the £30m reported last year, and amounted to more than double the £24m reported for the same period in 2016.

News of the rise in fraudulent crime comes a day after the government formally acknowledged that a planned ban on pension cold calling would not be swift, opting for a consultation into the matter instead.

Tom Selby, a senior analyst at AJ Bell, said the delay potentially puts “millions of hard-working savers at greater risk of being targeted by financial fraudsters.”

He added: "Every year thousands of people fall victim to investment scammers, with pensions – usually the most significant financial asset someone will have available to them – often the target.

“These recent figures suggest the problem could be getting worse rather than better, yet the Government continues to prevaricate over introducing a ban on pensions cold-calling that was first announced in November 2016.”

In the whole of the 2017/2018 tax year £167m in investment fraud losses was reported, with the average age of the victim stated to be 57.

Darren Cooke, chartered financial planner at Red Circle Financial Planning, said the City of London Police numbers were likely to be the "the tip of the iceberg", saying many people won’t report fraud of this nature because of fear or embarrassment.

He said: "We know that a large number of fraudulent scams are committed by cold calling. Cold calling has to be the most effective way of targeting people or the scammers would have moved on. When a cold call ban comes in it will restrict them.”

Cooke said that it was time to "get a message out that any cold call about pensions or investments is illegal" and warned that some fraudsters may step up their activity in anticipation of a ban being introduced.