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Over £600m lost to investment fraud: How to avoid fake deals

Over £600m lost to investment fraud: How to avoid fake deals
Matt Browning
Written By:
Matt Browning

More than £600m was lost by victims of investment fraud in the last year, data from a scam prevention service finds.

The total amount taken by scammers was £612,208,663. One victim alone lost £11.9m.

On average, the amount lost to investment fraudsters was £25,110 between January 2023 and 2024 from 30,130 reported cases, according to Action Fraud’s figures.

Victims aged between 55 and 64 years old were the most targeted age group, with over £133m lost to the scam.

Investment fraud involves criminals contacting people out of the blue to convince them to put money into schemes or products that do not exist or funds that have zero worth.

Cash is usually asked to be invested into valuable metals like gold and silver, a foreign currency exchange or, most commonly, cryptocurrency.

Cryptocurrency most common type of investment fraud

Currently, cryptocurrency represents 40% of all investment fraud reported to the City of London Police – the national lead force for fraud. This scam has proved popular, as fraudsters can ask for smaller upfront fees to prove an investment is growing in value, which presents itself as a small risk for investors.

In over 850 cases, the endorsement of celebrities was used on social media adverts to further convince people to part ways with their cash on fake trading platforms or stocks.

Scammers also created fake articles promoting those stocks supposedly written by influential figures within the financial industry, including Martin Lewis.

Meanwhile, investment fraud represents a large chunk of the £2.3bn lost to fraudsters in the UK last year, and Oliver Little, temporary detective superintendent at City of London Police, is “particularly concerned” about the older demographic being targeted by scam artists.

Fraud victims usually have ‘healthy’ savings amount

Little said: “Investment fraud destroys lives and is of particular concern to the older demographic of the UK public.

“Victims who are being targeted are those with a healthy amount of savings who have put their hard-earned money away for a rainy day or to help support family, and have been robbed of those opportunities.”

Little added: “If you are contacted out of the blue and asked if you would like to invest money, even if you meet someone face-to-face or at an office location, do not be rushed into handing over any money.”

“We advise everyone to take preventative measures before making a large financial commitment. It’s an age-old saying, but if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Here are three tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of investment fraud and what to do if it happens, from the City of London Police.

How to protect yourself:

  1. Investment opportunities: Don’t be rushed into making an investment. Remember, legitimate organisations will never pressure you into investing on the spot.
  2. Seek advice first: Before making significant financial decisions, speak with trusted friends or family members, or seek professional independent advice.
  3. FCA register: Use the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA’s) register to check if the company is regulated by the FCA. If you deal with a firm (or individual) that isn’t regulated, you may not be covered by the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) if things go wrong and you lose your money.


What to do if you’ve been a victim:

  • You could be targeted again: Fraudsters sometimes re-establish contact with previous victims claiming that they can help them recover lost money – this is just a secondary scam. Hang up on any callers that claim they can get your money back for you.
  • Identity theft: If you suspect your identity may have been stolen, you can check your credit rating quickly and easily online. You should do this every few months anyway, using a reputable service provider, and follow up on any unexpected or suspicious results.
  • Legal advice: In many cases of fraud, there is a close correlation between what may be considered fraud and the civil tort of deceit and/or breach of contract, for which there are civil litigation options. We would always advise that you seek professional legal advice or contact Citizens Advice to understand your options.


For more information about how to invest safely, the City of London Police recommends visiting the FCA’s scam page.