Regulation 

FCA enlists public to fight investment scams

FCA enlists public to fight investment scams

The Financial Conduct Authority has made a direct call to the public to report potentially fraudulent investments, as research carried out for the watchdog found more than a fifth of over-55s who suspected they had been contacted about a fraudulent investment in the last three years kept silent about it.

The most common reason for not doing so was not knowing who to report to.

According to the survey 63 per cent say they would report a suspected investment scam but this is significantly lower than those who would report spilled liquids in a supermarket (84 per cent) or fly tipping in their local area (81 per cent).

Mark Steward, director of enforcement at the FCA, said: “We want to say thank you to everyone who is coming forward to help us crack down on investment scams.

“It’s clear to see that by reporting suspicious investment schemes to the FCA, people are having a direct impact in helping to stop fraudsters exploiting others. But there is still more we can all do and we need the public’s help.

“We are encouraging people to speak out on behalf of their family or local community, just like they would report a crime in their local area.”

Last year the FCA received more than 8,000 reports of potential scams, with Londoners reporting the highest number of complaints, followed by those from Birmingham, Belfast and Guildford.

The FCA has called for more consumers to report suspected investment scams, recognising that there are more bogus firms out there that are yet to be identified.

The campaign has been supported by Countdown host Nick Hewer.

Mr Hewer said: “As someone who has been approached by scammers myself, I know that it’s not always easy to distinguish between a real and a fake investment offer. It’s vital that more people speak out to get these schemes closed for good.

“Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. If you are offered an attractive investment out of the blue, be suspicious, check the FCA’s Warning List and seek impartial advice.

“Better still, if you get a cold call, just put the phone down.”

Reports to the FCA inform action to protect consumers from firms operating fraudulent schemes.

The regulator publishes warnings about potentially fraudulent firms which are added to the FCA Warning List, an online tool that helps investors check a list of firms operating without authorisation and find out more about the risks associated with an investment.

This list currently contains details of nearly 4,000 firms to avoid.

The FCA also takes civil court action to stop illegal activity and for the most serious cases, pursues criminal prosecution.

Last year, the FCA returned more than £3m to victims of unauthorised activity, including investment fraud.  

damian.fantato@ft.com