The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) says it is taking “assertive action” against investment scams and has published data about the scale of the problem.
According to the data, between April and September 2021, the FCA received 16,400 enquiries about investment scams – an increase of almost a third on the previous year. The most commonly reported issues centred on cryptoassets, boiler rooms and recovery room fraud – in which investors who have previously lost money are targeted with false promises that their losses can be recovered.
The FCA reported that it has prevented one in four firms from entering the consumer investments market and opened more than 300 cases relating to possible cryptoasset businesses, including 50 live investigations and criminal probes into unauthorised businesses.
The FCA’s ScamSmart campaign encourages those considering investing to check its dedicated website, which features an online tool, and the Warning List, which allows users to find out more about the risks associated with an investment and view a list of firms the FCA knows are operating without its authorisation.
The InvestSmart campaign launched in October 2021, and is designed to help consumers who are new to investing by providing them with information to make better-informed investment decisions.
Sarah Pritchard, Executive Director of Markets at the FCA said: “Consumers need to have confidence when making investment decisions and the data we’ve published today shows how prevalent scams can be. Before investing, check you know who you are really dealing with, check if they are authorised by the FCA and do your research to understand the risks that might be posed.”
The FCA said it is drawing on all the tools at its disposal, including more assertive supervision and enforcement action, and being tougher with firms who want to operate in the sector.