Greater Manchester Police (GMP) is supporting a national campaign, led by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Action Fraud and the City of London Police, which aims to warn and protect the public from the rise in investment fraud scams across the UK.
Greater Manchester has seen 685 reports of investment fraud over the past year (December 2019–December 2020), resulting in loss to victims of £11.1 million.
The ongoing pandemic means many are currently worried about their finances and therefore potentially more susceptible to these sophisticated scams promising to offer a great return on investment. GMP is going all they can to arm the public with the knowledge they need to avoid the fraudsters and where possible, recover funds for those who have fallen victim.
In particular, Op Giantkind is raising awareness of clone firm investment scams, which saw a 29% increase in April 2020 compared to the month before. The scam involves fraudsters creating spoofs of real and often reputable investment companies, creating fake adverts which link through to fake websites, as well as using fake email address and reviews. The fraudsters will then use charm and a seemingly expert knowledge of the financial industry, to entice victims into handing over large sums of money believing they will receive a return on their investment. Victims often will not realise that they’ve been scammed until months later when they fail to receive quarterly returns or investment reports.
Detective Superintendent Estelle Mathieson, Head of GMP’s Economic Crime and Cyber Unit, said: “For many, the ongoing pandemic has brought financial uncertainty and that makes them vulnerable to these scams that offer a better return than the going market rate. I want to encourage members of the public however, to be more alert and cautious than ever with their hard earned money.
“Sharing advice such as – not being pressured by a time limit or flattery, avoiding being drawn in by returns that seem too good to be true and using the FCA to check whether a company is authorised and not relying on online reviews which may be fake, can stop these fraudsters getting their hands on your money.
“Nationally, it is the over 50s who are the main targets for this scam, so we encourage people to share these messages with their elderly friends and relatives however, in Greater Manchester a large proportion of those made victim of this scam are younger people aged 20–29. Again, we encourage them to take the time to think before making an investment and seek impartial advice before going ahead.”