Financial Conduct Authority  

Fraudsters clone FCA register and website

Fraudsters clone FCA register and website

Fraudsters have cloned the Financial Conduct Authority's website, including a page which encourages firms to register for online invoicing and pay annual fees. 

In a warning on its Twitter page this morning (July 22) the regulator said an attempt had been made to reproduce its register and webpage under the fake domain www.thefca.net.

The City watchdog said it was working to have the website removed and warned users to avoid the clone page. 

The fake website, shown below, uses the same colouring as the legitimate FCA site and even includes links to consultation and policy papers.

The homepage of the fake FCA website domain 

The cloned site also has a link encouraging firms to register for online invoicing, with almost identical wording to the real FCA site, including an option to pay annual regulatory fees. 

Annual fees page of the fake FCA website domain 

It is not the first attempt to clone the FCA's website in recent months, with a fake register surfacing last month which claimed to advertise financial adviser jobs and offer "job interview tips". 

Alan Chan, director and chartered financial planner at IFS Wealth and Pensions, said: "A few things give this scam away and so I do not think many advisers would be fooled by this.

"For one it pops up in the address bar that the website is not secure and the [dot] net at the end of the website address gives away that this is not the real FCA site.

"Because we know how to spot these type of scams, personally we would not be tricked by this."

But the clone website also contains a link to a fake financial services register, a tactic which Mr Chan said consumers could be easily fooled by.

He added: "If the fraudsters chose to list a number of unregulated firms on its cloned register then consumers could be at risk of falling for a fraud, thinking they are dealing with an FCA registered company."

Ian Lowes, managing director at Lowes Financial Management, agreed the tactic of using a fake register was the biggest potential risk to consumers. 

Mr Lowes said: "There is of course a potential risk for the consumer - if someone is trying to de-fraud someone of their life savings and directs them to the 'register' on a cloned website then regulator does have a problem. 

"But having said that we of course do not want to move to a world where we don't have a register in the first place." 

rachel.mortimer@ft.com 

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