FCA issues warning about cloned investment firm
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has warned consumers that scammers are using the details of a firm it authorises to try to convince people they work for a genuine, authorised firm.
The “clone” firm operates under the name of “Fidelity International”. It’s contactable on firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 208 089 9466.
There is a FCA authorised firm with a similar name: FIL Investments International – often known as “Fidelity”. Its website is www.fidelity.com and it has the FCA reference number 122170.
The FCA says there is no link between the two companies and only FIL Investments International is authorised to offer, promote or sell services or products in the UK.
Almost all firms and individuals carrying out financial services activities in the UK have to be authorised or registered by the FCA. Fidelity International is not authorised or registered by the FCA but has been targeting people in the UK, claiming to be an authorised firm.
How clone firms work
This type of firm is known as a “clone firm”. Fraudsters usually use this tactic when contacting people out of the blue, so you should be especially wary if you have been cold called. They may use the name of the genuine firm, the firm reference number the FCA has given the authorised firm, or other details.
As a firm needs to be authorised by the FCA to sell, promote or advise on the sale of shares and other investments in the UK, some fraudsters claim to represent authorised firms to appear genuine. The scammers then give their own phone number, address and website details to possible victims.
The FCA has also heard of fraudsters claiming that a firm’s contact details on the FCA register are out of date – but this is unlikely as the register is updated every evening.
The scammers often claim to be from overseas firms that appear on the register as these firms do not always have their full contact and website details listed. They may even copy the website of an authorised firm, making subtle changes such as to the phone number listed.
How to protect yourself
The FCA advises consumers to only deal with financial firms that are FCA authorised, and to check the financial services register to ensure they are.
If a firm does not appear on the register but claims it does, you should contact the FCA consumer helpline on 0800 111 6768.
If you give money to an unauthorised firm, you won’t be covered by the Financial Ombudsman Service or Financial Services Compensation Scheme if things go wrong.
Unauthorised or clone firm should be reported to the FCA.