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Sounding the alarm on lockdown scams

Darren Cooke

Darren Cooke

At the time you get to read this, national scams awareness fortnight (June 15-26) will be nearly over.

It comes at a time when we have seen a number of items in the press that scammers have been particularly active during the past three months of lockdown.

There has been an increase in social media activity by scammers offering high investment returns because they know people have been stuck at home and their usage of social media has increased.

They have also increased cold-calling scams pretending to be from the victim’s bank or HM Revenue & Customs because they know elderly and vulnerable people will be at home and even less able to talk to somebody else before they fall victim to the scammer.

Some are even calling claiming they are part of the Covid-19 track and trace team.

I would hope that nobody reading this would, or could, fall victim to a scam, but the evidence suggests otherwise.

Many people who are scammed come from educated backgrounds and scammers are very professional and very persuasive once they get you talking or interacting with them.

Of late we have seen London Capital & Finance, Blackmore Bonds and Bassett & Gold collapse, and these investment schemes happened right in front of our eyes – right in front of the Financial Conduct Authority’s eyes too – and there are many more we never really hear about.

Some of these victims, it seems, will be compensated by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, in effect, by you and me, so I urge you to do something about it, if not for your own social conscience, then for your pocket.

If you see an advert on Facebook or Twitter that looks like a scam, report it. Your one voice probably will not stop it, but if enough people shout hopefully it will make a difference.

Write a blog to warn all your clients of the common things to be aware of in a scam: cold calls, high guaranteed returns, offshore property, limited time to invest.

Post that on your personal Facebook page as well, to warn all your family and friends; after all, how would you feel if one of your friends fell for a scam you could have warned them about?

If you can save one person from falling for a scam, even if you never know and never meet them, that will be something worth having done.

Darren Cooke is a chartered financial planner at Red Circle Financial Planning