Investment fraudsters steal £51m in three months

Scammers are showing an increased appetite for ripping off unsuspecting UK consumers after £51m was stolen in the first three months of 2018/19, figures from the City of London Police reveal.

Between April and June 2018, savers were fleeced out of more than £51m ($67m, €58m).

This compares with £30m in the same three-month period in 2017/18 and £24m between April and June 2016.

The average fraud victim was aged 57.

“The cynical targeting of often vulnerable older people by scammers has surged following the introduction of the pension freedoms in April 2015, with savers now free to withdraw their entire retirement pot from age 55,” said Tom Selby, senior analyst at AJ Bell.

“Sadly, this represents an irresistible opportunity for fraudsters, who often lure people to invest in bogus schemes with the promise of outlandish guaranteed returns. These returns usually don’t materialise and sometimes the investment itself won’t even exist.”

Pension freedoms

Selby said: “Every year thousands of people fall victim to investment scammers, with pensions – usually the most significant financial asset someone will have available to them – often the target.

“Indeed, these recent figures suggest the problem could be getting worse rather than better, yet the government continues to prevaricate over introducing a ban on pensions cold-calling that was first announced in November 2016.

His comments come as the economic secretary for the Treasury confirmed that the government will further not be introducing a pensions cold calling ban any time soon.

“While ministers delay, millions of hard-working savers are at greater risk of being targeted by financial fraudsters.”

Source: City of London Police

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