It was reported this week that calls to the Financial Conduct Authority about investment scams have risen by almost 200% in the past five years. As fraudsters become more astute and sophisticated at how they going about their scams. This is partly due to the rise in ‘push-payment’ fraud, where scammers pose as trusted figures to trick people into sending money to them.
Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight at the Financial Conduct Authority said:
“Scammers are becoming more and more sophisticated, coming up with different tactics, such as impersonation texts or calls, and using the cost of living pressure as a way to tempt investors into false opportunities,”
With the rising cost of living crises- many will be looking to quick fixes and get-rich-now schemes. Scammers will be looking to take advantage of this financial vulnerability. They are sadly more likely to reach some level of success given the current societal landscape.
Another reason why the rate has grown so quickly is due to cryptocurrency. A relatively new phenomenon. Scammers lure investors in with things such as: fake celebrity endorsements and “pump-and-dump” schemes. These are schemes in which criminals falsely inflate the price of cryptocurrency before selling it to investors shortly before the value crashes.
As we have addressed before: pensions are also appealing targets from scammers. Mostly because people over 55 have easier access to their pensions. In many cases will be some peoples most valuable asset.
‘Authorised fraud’ is another key part to this. A harder type to prosecute. Rather than going into someone’s account and stealing- scammers gain the trust of their victim. Oftentimes the victim then willingly transfers the funds to the scammer. This type of fraud can take place in a variety of ways, most notably; social media and chat rooms.
Scammers may impersonate authority figures, bank staff and even romantic partners to earn victims’ trust. (Remember Netflix’s ‘Tinder Swindler?’). UK Finance figures for 2021 showed that authorised fraud losses increased by more than £150mn to £583mn.
Plan of Action
It’s all well and good discussing what’s happened, but what is actually being done about it?
Last year, the UK’s Payment System Regulator proposed to the government that banks and building societies should be required to fully reimburse victims of authorised push payment scams within two days of the fraud being reported. However, this has not yet happened. It is unknown how far into a decision they are. It could be argued that a more pressing issue is social media. Undoubtedly, those companies should be doing better to clamp down on scammers using their platforms to target victims. Thankfully, there is currently an online safety bill making its way through the House of Lords. Could this see these companies face a duty of care? Quite possibly so.
Until then, please have a read of some of our articles on investment scam warning signs– we have a library of content that can help you. However, if you believe you are the victim of an investment scam: get in touch with us today on 0207 504 1300 for a free consult. We are here to help.
This message serves as a warning against potential online scams, including website scams and investment scams. Please exercise caution and conduct thorough research before engaging in any online transactions or investments. Protect your personal and financial information from fraudulent activities, and consult with trusted sources for advice.
Insolvency and Law Peter Murray is an award-winning consultancy firm specialising in Insolvency, debt purchasing and business rescue.