In the wake of the jailing of stockbroker Nick Levene for 13 years earlier this month in what is estimated to be a £32m “Ponzi” fraud, the National Fraud Office and the Financial Services Authority launched a campaign this week to warn investors against becoming victims of financial scams.
The national fraud and internet crime reporting centre estimates that £1.2bn is lost every year through investment fraud such as “boiler room” scams, and, as part of a national call to action, entitled The Devil’s in Their Details, the Government and the private sector have collaborated to advise investors of the steps they can take to uncover and avoid investment scams.
According to the study, men aged 36 and over are the most likely to have made investments and half of those in this bracket who were polled admitted to giving out personal details before checking the identity of the person who contacted them regarding an investment.
In the last six months alone, Action Fraud has received reports of £15.5m lost to investment fraud, which is hardly surprising, given that the study also revealed that only just over half of those surveyed are confident they can spot the difference between a genuine and fraudulent offer.
However, only around 10 per cent of invest crimes are ever reported, as the investors who have been stung do not want the stigma of having committed a financial mistake.
The National Fraud Office, which runs Action Fraud suggests that investors should engage common sense if offered a deal that looks too good to be true, as it probably is.
The wisest course of action would be to investigate the company and individuals concerned and take professional advice from a trusted source, such as a reputable firm of accountants.
If you’re concerned about an investment or would like to discuss it further, come and speak to myself or a member of the Milsted Langdon team. We’re always on hand to offer impartial, honest and friendly advice, to help you achieve your financial goals.
Steve Horton is a Chartered Accountant and a Chartered Financial Planner who specialises in helping clients to manage their pensions and investments