Shareholder Warning: Share Fraud
Over the last few years many companies have become aware that their shareholders have received unsolicited phone calls and/or correspondence concerning investment matters. These are typically from overseas-based "brokers" who target UK shareholders offering to sell them shares in the US or UK markets, which often turn out to be worthless or very high risk shares.
The operatives are often very persuasive, using high-pressure tactics to lure investors into scams. “Once-in-a-lifetime” offers will be offered, creating a sense of urgency that the opportunity must be taken immediately. They can be persistent and often forceful, offering to sell shares that turn out to be worthless or non-existent, or to buy shares at an inflated price in return for an upfront payment.
It is not just the novice investor that has been duped in this way; many of the victims had been successfully investing for several years. Shareholders are advised to be very wary of unsolicited advice, offers to buy shares at a discount or offers of free company reports.
While high profits are promised, if you buy or sell shares in this way you will probably lose your money.
If you receive any unsolicited investment advice our tips are explained below.
10 Steps to Avoid Share Fraud
- Keep in mind that firms authorised by the FCA are unlikely to contact you out of the blue with an offer to buy or sell shares.
- Do not get into a conversation, note down the name of the person and firm contacting you and then end the call.
- Check the Financial Services Register from www.fca.org.uk to see if the person and firm contacting you is authorised by the FCA.
- Beware of fraudsters claiming to be from an authorised firm, copying its website or giving you false contact details.
- Use the firm’s contact details listed on the Register if you want to call it back.
- Call the FCA on 0800 111 6768 if the firm does not have contact details on the Register or you are told they are out of date.
- Search the list of unauthorised firms to avoid at http://www.fca.org.uk/scams
- Consider that if you buy or sell shares from an unauthorised firm you will not have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service or Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
- Think about getting independent professional advice before you hand over any money.
- Remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Report a Scam
If you are approached by fraudsters please tell the FCA using the share fraud reporting form at www.fca.org.uk/scams, where you can find out more about investment scams.
You can also call the FCA Consumer Helpline on 0800 111 6768.
If you have already paid money to share fraudsters you should contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.