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Investment fraud soars among young professionals

Woman holding a smartphone and credit card

Police are warning investors of the perils of "get rich quick" scams after more than £890m was lost to investment fraud last year -- an increase of almost 50% on the previous year.

With such rich rewards potentially available, it's no surprise that fraudsters' tactics have become increasingly varied and sophisticated, and scams are not always easy to spot.

Many victims of bogus investment opportunities are now being targeted on social media, according to the City of London Police, the national lead force for fraud.

People are often duped out of their money after seeing an influencer with a high number of followers endorse a scammer's advert.

After clicking on the ad, victims make a payment on fake or cloned websites, or their personal and banking details are obtained by criminals for example via remote access tools or over the phone.

Reported cases of investment fraud in the UK rose by 15.2% in the last financial year compared with the previous year, with just over 26,000 reports.

Young professionals are now the most likely victims: over a third (39%) of all victims of investment fraud last year were aged between 20 and 39 years old, while 16% were aged 40 to 49.

Each individual lost an average of £34,000.

"Investment fraud is rife and it destroys individuals and families," said Detective Chief Inspector Suzanne Ferris from the City of London Police. "With the cost of living crisis now at the forefront of everyone's minds, there is the potential that more people will fall victim to this devastating type of fraud as they try to find a way to get quick financial returns to help pay the bills.

"While criminals are now using social media to target people with fake investment opportunities, the 'typical' cold calling tactics haven't gone away, so we must not be complacent and remain alert to these types of approach.

"Always be on your guard and take time to do your research thoroughly before deciding to invest any amount of money. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Follow the Take Five to Stop Fraud advice as it will help protect you and your money."

To help avoid becoming a victim of investment fraud, it's important to stop and think. Don't let anyone rush you into an investment decision. It's OK to reject, refuse or ignore any requests -- only criminals will try to rush or panic you.

Be cautious if you are asked to change money into cryptocurrency to invest or make a payment via cryptocurrency. This is a tactic used by fraudsters.

Fraudsters have also been known to hack social media accounts to promote bogus investments. If you are making an investment based on a recommendation from a friend or family member sent via social media, check that it was actually sent by them.

And remember that scammers will often create professional looking websites and provide fake business addresses to give an impression of legitimacy.

If you think you may have fallen for a scam, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud.

Posted by Fidelius on October 24th 2022

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