Money Matters: Unscrupulous scammers target local investors

David Hill.

David Hill.

It seems like almost every week I hear of people who have been contacted by fraudsters trying to sell unregulated investments.

Often, the investments are overseas and offer “guaranteed” returns of eight per cent or more. The investments tend not to be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the people promoting them are usually not regulated either. This means that when it goes wrong, the usual protection offered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and the Financial Ombudsman Scheme does not apply.

This week, I met with a client who had been offered one of these unregulated investments and had become suspicious when she discovered that the “adviser” wasn’t regulated.

In some cases, once the investor agrees to proceed, they are put in touch with an actual adviser who persuades them to sign a disclaimer, effectively saying that they haven’t received any advice. This allows the adviser to pocket a hefty commission while not taking on the responsibility of giving the advice. This sort of shameful practice is still quite common, even though it is illegal to promote these unregulated schemes to ordinary investors.

The FCA is always keen to hear of any advisers who are involved in this sort of fraudulent activity. If you have been contacted about any of these too-good-to-be-true investments, you should contact the FCA and report the individuals involved. You can report scams on the FCA website www.scamsmart.fca.org.uk where

If you have lost money to a suspected investment fraud, you should report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or online at www.actionfraud.police.co.uk

Millions of pounds are lost to investment fraud in Northern Ireland every year, so make sure that you check the register of advisers at www.register.fca.org.uk before investing, and never sign a disclaimer to say that you haven’t received advice when you are relying on information given by an adviser. The Personal Finance Society has an excellent site http://www.thepfs.org/yourmoney with lots of information on how to invest and avoiding scams. It also has a useful directory of regulated financial advisers listed by postcode.

David Hill is a Chartered Financial Planner and Trust & Estate Practitioner at Hills Financial Planning, 15 Agnew Street, Larne. He can be contacted on 028 28276814, email david@hillsfinancialplanning.co.uk or see www.hillsfinancialplanning.co.uk