26th May 2015
There has been a marked increase in calls from boiler room fraudsters since the new pension freedoms came into effect in April, a financial advisory firm has warned.
Scammers claiming to be from legitimate and regulated firms are going to new lengths to trick consumers out of their savings since the pension rules changed, according to deVere group, which has received a number of calls from worried clients.
Some of the people who have contacted deVere have been approached by fraudsters attempting to use the financial advisory firm’s name in order to claim legitimacy and con victims out of money.
Kevin White, head of financial planning at deVere, says: “For more than two years, we have been warning of the rise of so-called clone companies whose employees contact individuals and claim to be from fully authorised, regulated and licenced financial advisory firms such as deVere.
“Typically, these scammers cold call investors to promote investments that are worthless, overpriced or perhaps even non-existent.
“Since the beginning of April, the number of calls we have received from clients concerned about clone scams has sky rocketed. And with depressing frequency, we’re now receiving calls from people after they have transferred funds to the suspected fraudsters.
“For instance, we recently dealt with an 80-year old who had ‘invested’ his savings with a clone firm that was pretending to be deVere United Kingdom.
“We have noted a month-on-month increase of such calls of approximately 35 per cent. The calls have come from our clients not only in the UK, but across Europe, the US and the Gulf. ”
He adds “We believe that it is not a coincidence that this significant increase coincides with the launch of the government’s landmark pension freedoms.”
Earlier this year, deVere Group warned that “as the new freedoms and flexibilities come into effect in April, the scam artists are likely to increase their activities yet further as they will see it as boom time.”
White says: “Previously, the tactics employed by these criminals typically involved using almost identical trading names, websites, logos and business cards as those of genuine firms, such as deVere United Kingdom.
“Whilst these are still common methods used to dupe people, the boiler room con artists seem to be getting yet more sophisticated. Some of them, for example, are now even using fake FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) numbers that are similar to our registered one and adopting the similar or the same names as our genuine consultants when speaking to their potential victims.”
He says: “If you suspect you have been contacted by a bogus firm, document each email and/or call and retain all paperwork and don’t indicate to the scammers you suspect anything. Then you need to report your suspicions to the FCA, the police and to Action Fraud who can investigate.
“Beware of investments that appear too good to be true, bank accounts to send money to in different names to either of the companies that are being presented and bank accounts that are based overseas.
White adds: “deVere United Kingdom or deVere Group do not handle client money – do not send anything to an account in these names.”