Between September 2019 and September 2020, Action Fraud received just over 17,000 reports of investment fraud, amounting to £657.4m in reported losses. This is a 28% increase when compared to the same period last year. Furthermore, reports spiked in May, June, July, August and September 2020 as the nation adjusted to life after lockdown.
How to protect yourself from investment fraud
* Be suspicious if you are contacted out the blue about an investment opportunity. This could be via a cold-call, an e-mail or an approach on social media.
* Don't be rushed into making an investment. No legitimate organisation will pressure you into making a transaction, or committing to something on the spot. Take time to do your research.
* Seek advice from trusted friends, family members or independent professional advice services before making a significant financial decision. Even genuine investment schemes can be high risk.
* Use a financial advisor accredited by the Financial Conduct Authority. Paying for professional advice may seem like an unnecessary expense, but it will help prevent you from being scammed.
* Use the Financial Conduct Authority's register to check if a company is regulated. If you deal with a firm or individual that isn't regulated, you may not be able to get your money back if something goes wrong and its more likely to be a scam.
* Just because a company has a glossy website and glowing reviews from 'high net worth' investors does not mean it is genuine – fraudsters will go to great lengths to convince you they are not a scam.
* Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
If you think you've been a victim of an investment fraud, report it to Action Fraud online at www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040. For more information about investment fraud, visit www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart.