Brits reported more than £78m of losses to pension scamswritten by Bella Palmer
Reports of "clone firm" investment scams surged around the start of the first coronavirus lockdown
Brits reported more than £78million of losses to investment and pension scams involving fraudsters imitating genuine firms in 2020.
The figures are from Action Fraud, the UK's national fraud reporting centre.
The data has been released as part of the Financial Conduct Authority's ScamSmart campaign.
Throughout 2020, consumers reported average losses of £45,242 when investing with fraudsters imitating genuine investment firms.
Scammers set up clone firms using the name, address and firm reference number (FRN) of real companies authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
They then send out sales materials linking to the websites of legitimate firms, to trick potential investors into thinking they are dealing with the real firm.
Reports of "clone firm" investment scams jumped around the start of the initial coronavirus lockdown in 2020.
They increased by 29% in April 2020 compared with March.
The ongoing financial impact of Covid-19 may make people more susceptible to clone scams, the FCA said.
Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight, FCA, said: Fraudsters use literature and websites that mirror those of legitimate firms, as well as encouraging investors to check the firm reference number (FRN) on the FCA Register to sound as convincing as possible.
Last year we issued alerts in relation to over 1,100 firms including clones, which has more than doubled since 2019 and we are working with the National Economic Crime Centre (NECC) and National Cyber Security Centre to take down clone sites when they are discovered, he said.
He said if people are still unsure about a firm after checking the FCA's website: Call our consumer helpline for further information. When it comes to clones, I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to double check every detail.
The awareness drive is also backed by consumer champion and TV presenter Matt Allwright, who said: It may seem appealing - particularly right now - to make some investments to boost your savings or income. However, it is more important than ever to tune into the finer print, spot the beartraps and triple check details before parting with your money.
This article is for information purposes only.
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