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IA warns of large-scale investment scam | #coronavirus | #scams | #covid19

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Fraudsters have been convincing savers to purchase investment products that do not exist and to give away their personal details as part of “sophisticated” impersonation scam, the Investment Association has warned.

A number of investment companies reported that fraudsters have been impersonating their products, in particular investment bonds, and promoting them through fake price comparison sites in order to get their hands on savers’ cash, according to the IA.

The scammers are targeting victims through sponsored Google and Facebook links and also collect personal details via fake call centres.

In some cases scammers have set up a range of email addresses and used the names of genuine members of staff in investment management firms to trick savers.

The IA said a number of firms across the industry have been affected and approximately 300 incidences of this fraud have been reported to date, with an estimated total loss to savers of approximately £4m.

Savers only realised they had been a victim of this fraud when they contacted the genuine firms to ask about their payments.

Investment managers are now urging their customers and the public to be vigilant, and are working closely with regulators and law enforcement.

Chris Cummings, chief executive of the Investment Association, said: “During this time of great uncertainty, serious organised criminals have ratcheted up their operations and are increasingly ruthless in their mission to steal from investors.

“Our industry is determined to counter this threat, and will continue to work closely with the police and regulators to bring an end to these scams.

“Fraud and scams come in many different disguises. That’s why today we urge savers and investors to be as vigilant as possible to protect their investments and think very carefully about the risks criminals pose to their financial wellbeing.”

Aviva is one of the firms who has become aware of sites, run by fraudsters, pretending to be part of its business.

Among these websites are avivainvestorsholdings.com, avivauk.com and avivabonds.com.

Peter Hazlewood, group financial crime risk director at Aviva, told FTAdviser the sites have been offering return rates of 5-6 per cent on overseas investments and are able to trick savers by pretending to be part of Aviva.

However, Aviva has been working to remove these sites and make savers aware what to look out for when spotting a scam.

Mr Hazlewood said the industry has come together now more than ever to tackle these frauds.

He said: “The increased level of scams throughout the Covid-19 pandemic has brought everyone together with a common purpose.

“This is something which is important to us all and everyone has upped their game. We all support one another and are sharing information and doing so in an accelerated way.”

Phishing scams

Meanwhile cybersecurity firm Cofense has identified a new phishing scam in which fraudsters pretend to be from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to target employees who are expecting Covid-19 relief grants.

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