Investors warned against dodgy bond comparison sites
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published a host of warnings over the last couple of days related to websites selling investment bonds. It has cautioned that these sites have been providing products or services without the necessary authorisation and so may be run by scammers looking to rip people off.
The bond firms highlighted by the regulator include Comparebondrates.com, UK Premier Bonds, Invest Property Bonds, bonds-invest.com and Top Bond Invest.
For each of the firms the FCA published a warning note, stating: “Some firms act without our authorisation and some knowingly run investment scams. This firm is not authorised by us and is targeting people in the UK. Based upon information we hold, we believe it is carrying on regulated activities which require authorisation.”
Investment bond scams
Investment bonds are an apparently lucrative angle for scammers looking to dupe victims into handing over their cash.
Each of the sites flagged up by the FCA promise investors the chance to earn returns far beyond what is usually available at the moment, in some cases of up to 9% per annum.
And while that high interest rate should act as a warning sign, for some investors it simply appears too tempting an opportunity to turn down.
Investment bond scam sites offer investors the opportunity to put their money into bonds supposedly offered by big banking names ‒ the likes of Credit Suisse, Citibank, etc.
However, in reality these bonds often don’t really exist, with the scammers behind the site simply pocketing the cash and moving onto the next victim.
The government is currently working on an Online Safety Bill, but it has been criticised for failing to include measures which will protect consumers and investors from the increasingly “sophisticated” measures employed by scammers.
Falling for an investment scam can be seriously costly too, with a report from Action Fraud in January finding that victims lost an average of more than £45,000 last year. What’s more, there are sharp gender differences in terms of victims, with men far more likely to be duped by investment scammers.
Reporting unauthorised firms
Clearly before you invest with any firm, it’s really important that you do your homework to ensure that it is legitimate. That should include checking that it is registered and authorised by the FCA, though it’s worth remembering that there have been cases of ‘clone’ investment firms impersonating genuine businesses, even including their authorisation number.
It’s worth checking the URL and contact details for the investment firm, to help you work out whether it’s genuine or potentially a clone.
The regulator called on those who have been approached by an unauthorised firm to contact its consumer helpline on 0800 111 6768.
If you have been offered, bought or sold shares, then you can report it through this form on the FCA’s website.