Share fraud includes scams where investors are called out of the blue and offered an inflated price for shares they own or shares that often turn out to be worthless or non-existent.
These calls come from fraudsters operating in ‘boiler rooms’ that are mostly based abroad. While high profits are promised or guaranteed, 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.
REMEMBER: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
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:
- Get the name of the person and organization contacting you.
- Visit the FCA website to access the register of regulated firms and their agents to ensure they are authorized.
- Use the details on the FCA Register to contact the firm.
- Call the FCA Consumer Helpline on 0800 111 6768 if there are no contact details on the Register or you are told they are out of date.
The FCA provides a list of regulated firms that must adhere to certain standards through which it is recommended to deal. These firms are covered by the Financial Ombudsman Service complaints procedure and may provide access to compensation schemes.
If you choose to deal with an unregistered firm then you won’t 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 at www.fca.org.uk/scams, where you can find out about the latest investment scams.
You can also call the Consumer Helpline on 0800 111 6768. If you have already paid money to share fraudsters you should contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. You may contact our Registrars, Link Asset Services on 0871 664 0391.