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 Almost £10m lost in North East clone firm investment scams

 28/01/2021

​Aspiring investors across the region have lost almost £10m to cyber-criminals setting up bogus companies.


We are backing a national campaign aimed at raising awareness of ‘clone firm’ investment scams which sees fraudsters snap up people’s cash by imitating genuine investment firms.


As part of the scheme, con-artists will set up a fake firm by copying all the relevant details of a legitimate financial company – convincing customers they are the real deal and pocketing their cash.


And eager investors across the North East lost a total of £9.5m between December 2019 and 2020.


Investors in Durham lost £3.4m and those in Cleveland £2m - with those aged between 60 and 69 affected the most.


Northumbria saw a total of £3.9m lost with those aged 20- 29 most affected. 

 
Nationally, reported losses sits at £78 million and from this week, forces across the country are uniting alongside the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) as part of a targeted crackdown against scammers who set up fake firms mirroring real financial companies. 


Detective Sergeant Paddy O’Keefe from the North East Regional Special Operations Unit (NERSOU) lent his support to the campaign, and urged any potential investors to proceed with caution.


He said: “Fraudsters are experts at preying on people’s vulnerabilities so this comes as no surprise at a time when many people are struggling financially and are looking for alternative ways to make money.


“We completely understand why people want to invest their savings and plan for their futures, but if you are going to do this, it’s essential you do it properly.


“Please do you your research and don’t let yourself get taken in by a scam.


“Some of the clone investment scams can look very convincing, especially if you’ve never done it before – so ALWAYS make sure you visit the FCA register to ensure the firm you want to deal with is registered and legitimate, and use the contact details provided on their website. Our partners in the FCA also have a warning list of firms to avoid and a consumer helpline.


“Rest assured we are doing all we can to tackle the organised criminal groups behind these scams, but it’s important any potential investors familiarise themselves with the scam, and protect themselves against it.”


For more information visit:  www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart


As well as websites, scammers will often target potential victims via email and telephone. Members of the public who have received an email which they are not quite sure about are urged to forward it to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS) at report@phishing.gov.uk 


Suspicious text messages should be forwarded to 7726. This free-of-charge short code enables telephone providers to investigate the origin of the text and take action, if found to be malicious.