The British financial watchdog issues warnings about bogus firms and scam traders almost every day, but many investors are still unaware of just how many fraudsters are after their money.
The Financial Conduct Authority list of unauthorised financial and investment advisers is huge – covering just over 3,150 firms.
Each is a scam operation and between them, these con men and crooks have cheated unwary investors out of millions of pounds.
Despite behind-the-scenes work by investigators at the FCA, Serious Fraud Office and the police, many of these offenders are never brought to book and get away with the cash they have stolen.
The FCA has a dedicated section online listing these bogus advisers and guidance to help anyone who believes they may be a victim of a fraud.
All investment and financial advisers in Britain must be registered with the FCA by law.
Unfortunately, many are based offshore and disguise their identities by cloning bona fide businesses by setting up sham web sites and marketing materials.
The most likely scammers will make unsolicited contact by email, text or phone – a practise outlawed for authorised firms in the UK.
“Anyone who is unsure about who they are dealing with should check our list of suspected scammers,” said an FCA spokesman.
“If they still have doubts or the firm is not on the list, then they should contact us and never give away personal financial information or hand over any cash.”
Warnings about bogus advisers
The FCA has also issued these warnings about bogus firms posing as regulated financial advisers:
- The Insurance Helpline (Clone web site)
- Independent Private Consultants, Independent Finance Trade Commission, Richard Grant Birch (Clone web site)
Dealing with an unregulated firm
If you buy shares, save money or invest with an unregulated firm, you lose any protection offered by the Financial Ombudsman and the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. Broadly, you have no independent place to complain if the deal goes wrong and are unlikely to win any compensation.
Checking if a firm is regulated
Go to the Financial Services Register to check if a firm is regulated in the UK.
Reporting a suspected bogus adviser