Over the past few years we have been aware, as have many listed companies, that our shareholders have received unsolicited phone calls or correspondence concerning investment matters.
Share fraud includes scams where investors are called out of the blue and offered shares that often turn out to be worthless or non-existent, or an inflated price for shares they own. These calls come from fraudsters operating in 'boiler rooms' that are mostly based abroad.
While high profits are promised, those who buy or sell shares in this way usually lose their money.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has found most share fraud victims are experienced investors who lose an average of £20,000, with around £200m lost in the UK each year.
Spot the warning signs
Have you been...
- contacted out of the blue
- promised tempting returns and told the investment is safe
- called repeatedly, or
- told the offer is only available for a limited time?
How to avoid share fraud
- If you've been cold called with an offer to buy or sell shares, chances are it's a high risk investment or a scam. You should treat the call with extreme caution. The safest thing to do is to hang up.
- Check the Financial Services Register at www.fca.org.uk/register to see if the person and firm contacting you is authorised by the FCA.
- Beware of fraudsters claiming to be from an authorised firm, copying its website or giving you false contact details.
- Use the firm’s contact details listed on the Register if you want to call it back.
- Call the FCA on 0800 111 6768 if the firm does not have contact details on the Register or you are told they are out of date.
- Search the list of unauthorised firms to avoid at www.fca.org.uk/scams.
- Consider that if you buy or sell shares from an unauthorised firm you will not have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service or Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
- Think about getting impartial financial advice before you hand over any money. Seek advice from someone unconnected to the firm that has approached you.
- Remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Report a scam
If you suspect that you have been approached by fraudsters, please tell the FCA using the share fraud reporting form at www.fca.org/scams, where you can find out more about investment scams. You can also call the FCA Consumer Helpline on 0800 111 6768.
If you have lost money to investment fraud, you should report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or online at www.actionfraud.police.uk.
From time to time, details of any shareholding facilities that the Company endorses will be included in our Company mailings or will be available on our website.