Personal Finance

Are we finally winning the war against scammers? Armchair detectives spot these signs to save £2m

Beady-eyed investors are turning into armchair detectives to foil scammers with skills that have saved £2m being lost to fraudsters in the last year.

Frustrated Britons are turning into neighbourhood Sherlock Holmes characters to bring down con-artists in their droves, with calls to the Financial Conduct Authority rising 193% in the last five years.

Sharing what they see as tell-tale signs of a scam, informants say finding mistakes in material (34%) and requests for personal details to secure the opportunity (34%) are the most common tricks that raise the alarm. Other warning signs that made investors suspicious included being contacted out of the blue (33%) and being pressured to invest before the ‘offer’ ends (26%).

In an FCA poll of 1,036 investors who avoided a scam, two in five (39%) said their pro-active investigations and research are helping to smoke out fraudsters, while another 32% rely on gut instinct.

While many may think of scammers cold calling their victims, the top way households were being contacted was by email (33%), follow by phone call (25%).

Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight said: “Scammers are becoming more and more sophisticated, coming up with different tactics, such as impersonation texts or calls, and using the cost of living pressure as a way to tempt investors into false opportunities. Once money has been lost in this way, it’s difficult to get back, so if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. It’s great to see so many investors being able to spot the signs of a scam, and helping others to do the same. You don’t need to be a Sherlock Holmes to spot scams.”

NimbleFins previously reported unregulated firms were taking advantage of the cost of living crisis by offering Buy Now Pay Later and high interest loans through social media. The FCA took down or changed more than 4,000 promotions in just three months.

Scam warning signs:

  • Time pressure: Time-limited ‘deals’ or pressure to invest quickly
  • Unexpected contact: Cold calling or messaging via text, email or social media should all raise red flags.
  • Exclusivity: If you’ve been ‘specially chosen’ for a ‘deal’, or you’re asked to keep it a secret it could be a scam.
  • Unrealistic: If something looks too good to be true it probably is.
  • Remote access: If someone asks you to download software or an app this could be so they can gain access to your bank details.
  • False authority: Scammers might use convincing literature or websites, or share fake reviews.
  • Flattery: They may try to build a rapport to lure you into handing over your money or bank details.

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Helen Barnett

Helen is a journalist, editor and copywriter with 15 years' experience writing across print and digital publications. She previously edited the Daily Express website and has won awards as a reporter. Read more here.


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