Over-confidence, a tendency to act on impulse and ability to invest large amounts means middle-age men are most likely to be stung by investment fraud An estimated 1.2bn is lost to investment fraud in the UK every year, according to a government body.
To highlight the problem a campaign has been launched urging the public to “check before they invest” in a money-making scheme. The campaign is being led by Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and internet crime reporting centre.
Common investment scams include “boiler room” operations where salespeople who are usually based abroad cold-call investors and offer them worthless, overpriced or even non-existent shares, and landbanking scams where people are persuaded to buy agricultural land at vastly inflated prices.
Regulators have also warned of the growing number of scams involving the sale of “carbon credits” supposedly offering impressive returns.
According to Action Fraud, UK investors are losing about 1.2bn a year. Research for the campaign found that men aged between 36 and 55 were one of the most likely groups to be ripped off by investment fraudsters.
“This group is more likely to take risks through taking part in online deals, promotions and foreign money-making opportunities The ability to invest large amounts, as well as a tendency to act on impulse, serve to increase the likelihood of these people becoming victims of these scams,” a spokesman said. He added that “over-confidence” was a problem.
Research carried out in October for the campaign found that almost half (49%) of those men aged 36 and over who were quizzed admitted to having given out personal details before checking the credentials of the person who contacted them.
Peter Wilson, director at the National Fraud Authority, said: “Our intelligence shows that amounts ranging between 10,000 to over 1m are being handed over to fraudsters by victims.
“This loss is likely to be permanent and will not only deal a life-changing blow to the victims, but possibly their family and their business. Before investing large sums of money, everyone should take a step back and consider that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
Action Fraud has teamed up with industry bodies and regulators, including the Financial Services Authority, to raise awareness among those at greatest risk of falling victim to fraud. The campaign includes an online video.
Guardian News and Media 2012