Regulation 

FCA warns of investment firm clone

FCA warns of investment firm clone

The financial regulator has warned fraudsters are using a clone firm to impersonate the financial services and investment group Smith & Williamson and targeting people in the UK. 

In an update published on its website today (August 6) the Financial Conduct Authority said clone firm Smith & Williams PLC, which is trading as Smith and Williams Online, was being used by fraudsters to give the impression they work for the authorised companies Smith & Williamson Investment Management LLP and Smith & Williamson Investment Services Limited. 

The watchdog warned the clone Smith and Williams Online, trading from an address in Portland House in Victoria, London, had been been targeting potential victims in the UK as part of a scam. 

The FCA said fraudsters usually use the tactic of a clone firm when contacting people out of the blue and warned the public to be "especially wary" if cold called by the company.

The FCA-authorised Smith & Williamson Investment Management and Smith & Williamson Investment Services, which are available at www.smithandwilliamson.com, have no association with the clone Smith and Williams Online. 

According to the regulator the clone firm is using the website address www.smithandwilliamsonline.com and www.sandw-online.com. 

A Smith & Williamson spokesperson said: "After discovering a website impersonating Smith & Williamson and using our name for potential fraudulent activities last month, our financial crime team immediately notified Action Fraud and the Financial Conduct Authority and we published a warning on our website. 

"While we have robust measures in place to protect our clients’ interests, we urge any potential investors to stay alert to the dangers of investment fraud and to exercise caution, even if documents or websites appear legitimate and refer to genuine products."

Last month the FCA put out a similar warning of a clone firm pretending to be Fidelity, using the same tactics of a similar name and email and web address. 

The FCA said: "We strongly advise you to only deal with financial firms that are authorised by us, and check the Financial Services Register to ensure they are. It has information on firms and individuals that are, or have been, regulated by us.

"You should also be aware that if you give money to an unauthorised firm, you will not be covered by the Financial Ombudsman Service or Financial Services Compensation Scheme if things go wrong."

The regulator warned some fraudsters claiming to represent authorised firms have tried to change the company's contact details on the register to appear genuine and giving their own phone number and website details to potential victims.

The FCA said it has heard of fraudsters claiming a firm's contact details on the register were out of date, but the regulator said this would be "unlikely" as it updates the register each evening. 

rachel.addison@ft.com 

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