Share fraud includes scams where investors are called out of the blue and offered shares that often turn out to be worthless or non-existent, or an inflated price for shares they own. These calls come from fraudsters operating in ‘boiler rooms’ that are mostly based abroad. While high profits are promised, those who buy or sell shares in this way usually lose their money.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has found most share fraud victims are experienced investors who lose an average of £20,000, with around £200m lost in the UK each year.
If you are offered unsolicited investment advice, discounted shares, a premium price for shares you own, or free company or research reports, you should take these steps before handing over any money:
1. Get the name of the person and organisation contacting you.
2. Check the Financial Services Register at the FCA website to ensure they are authorised.
3. Use the details on the Financial Services Register to contact the firm.
4. Call the FCA Consumer Helpline on 0845 606 1234 if there are no contact details
on the Register or you are told they are out of date.
5. Search the FCA's list of unauthorised firms and individuals to avoid doing business with.
6. REMEMBER: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
If you use an unauthorised firm to buy or sell shares or other investments, you will not have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service or Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) if things go wrong.
REPORT A SCAM
If you are approached about a share scam you should tell the FCA using the share fraud reporting form on the FCA website, where you can find out about the latest investment scams.
If you have already paid money to share fraudsters you should contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040