Financial Conduct Authority  

FCA warns on coronavirus scams

FCA warns on coronavirus scams

The Financial Conduct Authority has warned of "sophisticated and opportunistic" scammers looking to capitalise on the confusion surrounding the coronavirus outbreak. 

In a statement on its website today (March 27) the regulator said a major event like a pandemic can lead to new types of scam activity, including "good cause" tactics where fraudsters promise high returns for investments in the likes of hand sanitiser or personal protection equipment.  

With the uncertainty currently surrounding a market in turmoil the FCA also warned scammers could advise consumers to invest or transfer existing investments into non-standard and allegedly high-return investments. 

The watchdog said: "When it comes to financial services, the scam activity is more nuanced and often appears after the initial shock of a major event.

"With that in mind, we are urging consumers to be vigilant for scams that could appear over the coming months. 

"Scammers are sophisticated, opportunistic...and tend to target people who are more vulnerable or susceptible to being scammed, particularly in the current climate with many more people being at home."

The FCA also urged consumers to be on high-alert for clone firms, those not authorised by the regulator, and scammers claiming to be from claims management companies.

Earlier this week the National Crime Agency warned criminals were now also impersonating HM Revenue & Customs, targeting members of the public by making fake offers of financial support during the pandemic and current market downturn. 

In particular, these fraudsters are targeting the elderly and vulnerable as they self-isolate during the pandemic. 

Yesterday FTAdviser revealed fraudsters were attempting to capitalise on the confusion around the treatment of the self-employed by targeting them in a scam that began circulating as the coronavirus lockdown got underway this week.

rachel.mortimer@ft.com 

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