Scams  

Police warn of investment fraudsters targeting the elderly

Police warn of investment fraudsters targeting the elderly

Surrey Police have warned of increasingly common investment fraud after victims lost hundreds of thousands of pounds to scammers last month.

The force recorded six cases of investment fraud involving vulnerable people in May, with total losses of more than £365,000.

Surrey Police said victims aged over 65 were frequent targets of fraudsters who offered "too good to be true" investment opportunities in shares or bonds, or precious goods such as gold, silver, diamonds, wine or art.

The force warned fraudsters were typically credible-sounding and claimed to represent an investment company offering impressive profits. 

The warning comes amid a pattern of increasingly sophisticated investment scams, with the number of warnings issued by the Financial Conduct Authority about unauthorised firms jumping by 68 per cent in 2018/19. 

PC Bernadette Lawrie, financial abuse safeguarding officer for Surrey Police, said: "We are seeing victims lose devastating sums of money to fraudsters and are urging people to be wary when contacted by someone claiming to be from an investment firm about their money. 

"This contact is frequently via telephone but can also start through social media and while searching for investments online.

"Take your time making decisions and remember that if something sounds too good to be true then it probably is."

Regulatory experts have previously warned the increased prevalence of the internet as a source of financial information has left investors exposed to more unsolicited advertising and marketing for seemingly attractive investment opportunities.

According to Surrey Police one of last month's cases involved a couple in their 70s who turned to the internet for investment opportunities when a pop up appeared asking for their personal details.

Believing the site to be legitimate, and their bank wanting to contact them about a possible investment, the couple gave their details and had transferred £70,000 before a further payment was blocked by their bank as suspicious. 

rachel.mortimer@ft.com 

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