As this newspaper has previously reported, scammers impersonate legitimate investment companies – in particular bond issuers – and promote the schemes through false price comparison websites.
Fraudsters target victims through Google and Facebook advertisements, the IA said. Victims who click through these links are taken either directly to fake websites or to false online comparison sites.
Financial regulators have said they are powerless to stop scammers from placing fake investment adverts on Google, which is earning millions of pounds each year from ads paid by fraudulent companies.
For any investors approached by scammers, it is important to remember that legitimate organisations will never phone or email you out of the blue regarding investments and that if an investment looks even a little bit too good to be true, then it probably is.
Legitimate organisations will never rush you into payments or impose time limits, so if there is anything time-sensitive that must be done immediately, it is likely to be a scam.
Investors should also be careful with comparison sites. Although extremely useful if legitimate, those that appear as paid-for adverts on internet searches may be fake and a trusted source should be used.
A spokesman for Google said the firm had a strict advertising policy and that when scam ads were reported they were removed.
A spokesman for Facebook said: “There’s no place for fraudulent or inauthentic behaviour on Facebook, and we will remove ads and content that violate our policies. We urge people to report any suspicious posts to us.
“As part of this work, we have donated £3m to Citizens Advice to deliver a new UK Scam Action Programme and in June, we launched an industry-wide UK Scam Ad Alert system in partnership with the Advertising Standards Authority to help tackle scam ads further.”
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