As the rising cost of living becomes a concern in many households, UK Finance’s Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign is today warning consumers to watch out for fraudulent investment opportunities that can promise unrealistic returns in short periods of time.
Criminals always look to exploit situations where people are concerned about their finances, as we saw during the Covid-19 pandemic. This includes fraudulent investments which claim to offer quick returns to people looking to increase their household income to meet rising costs.
Customers may be targeted by cold callers or presented with fake investment opportunities, including cryptocurrencies, promoted on search engines and social media. To make them appear genuine, criminals use fake celebrity endorsements or testimonies from people who have supposedly received large profits.
Criminals also often set up cloned websites purporting to be legitimate investment firms and may even send out paperwork with official branding or provide access to fake investment platforms to add a layer of credibility to their scams.
Katy Worobec, Managing Director of Economic Crime at UK Finance, said: “Concerns about rising bills can sometimes make it tempting to look for opportunities to make extra money. However criminals are experts at impersonating trusted organisations and this includes investment professionals. They will try to make investment scams seem genuine and victims might even see a return on their initial ‘investment’ to convince them to hand over more money.
“It’s important to be wary of any investment opportunities that offer fast returns and pressure you to send money quickly. Follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign and be cautious of approaches presenting you with exclusive or too good to be true investment opportunities.”
How to spot investment fraud
- You see ads within your social media feeds, sometimes celebrity endorsed, offering high returns on investments
- You’re contacted out of the blue by phone, email or social media about an investment opportunity
- You may be offered a high return on your investment with apparently little or no risk
- You’re told the investment opportunity is exclusive to you
- For some types of investment, you’re pressurised into making a decision with no time for consideration
To help people stay safe, the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign advice is to:
- STOP: Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.
- CHALLENGE: Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
- PROTECT: Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud.