Coronavirus: Investment scams quadruple since virus lockdown

Image source, Peter Dazeley

The number of investment scams has quadrupled since the first UK lockdown began in March with fraudsters using more sophisticated tactics.

Scammers have been cloning fund managers' websites, products and documents to steal almost £10m ($13.3m) from UK investors.

Fraudsters are even creating fake price comparison websites, says the Investment Association (IA).

The reported number of scams almost quadrupled from around 300 to 1,175.

"In a year clouded in uncertainty, organised criminals have sought opportunity in misfortune by attempting to con investors out of their hard-earned savings," said Chris Cummings, chief executive of IA.

Losses added up to £9.4m between March and mid-October, due to sophisticated "cloning" investment scams.

The Investment Association discovered scammers had been promoting fake products on sham price comparison websites and adverts on social media and search engines.

"The investment management industry is working closely with the police and regulators to stop these scams, and is collaborating with our partners in government to close them down and prevent them being advertised in the first place," Mr Cummings added.

Earlier this month Britain's Action Fraud revealed victims of investment fraud had lost at least £657m in the past year, a rise of 28%.

The fraud and cybercrime prevention organisation said scammers have been looking for opportunities during coronavirus pandemic.

"Preying on people when they are at their most vulnerable really shows how low these criminals will stoop to make a profit for themselves," said Pauline Smith, head of Action Fraud.

"Just because a company has a glossy website and glowing reviews from 'high net worth' investors does not mean it is genuine," Action Fraud warned.