In March we posted an article about Coronavirus Scams – you can read it here. We wrote, “Scandalous though it may sound, cyber-criminals are using the coronavirus crisis to prey on unsuspecting individuals. “.
Well, over the past few months, the scammers have taken some Financial Scams to the next level, creating Content and Prospectus’ designed specifically to dupe even the most sophisticated investors.
On this occasion scammers are posing as the Internal Advice team at Prudential, offering an exclusive product which they have named as a “Fixed Interest RMA Bond / ISA” offering consumers up to 3.5% per annum, guaranteed.
Having been alerted to this by a client, who had found this product online and was in process of transferring £150,000 to the scammers, our advisers requested the literature from the client and urged them to cease any action before we were able to validate the authenticity of the product. This failed our checks, the client was urged to cease any activity/communications immediately. We are pleased to report that the transaction was cancelled & no money was lost.
Our Chartered Financial Planner, James Evans & Financial Adviser, Daniel Williams who unearthed the scam both believe this is the most sophisticated Financial Product Scam they have seen to date.
Having spoken directly to Prudential, their fraud team have confirmed that they do not offer a “Fixed Interest RMA Bond or ISA”, and that this is a sophisticated financial scam. The team have offered their support and offered the following advice:
“Thank you for reporting your suspicions to us. I can confirm this is a scam and therefore would urge you to cease all contact with these individuals.
You may want to consider the following actions to protect yourself from harm, given the fraudster has your contact details. Not all will be relevant but please consider which might apply.“
- Alert your own bank immediately. If relevant, Inform them if you have paid to a fraudulent bank account from your own account held with them. Help and support with this is provided in the following link: https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/what-to-do-if-youre-the-victim-of-a-bank-transfer-app-scam.
- Alert any financial services organisations where you hold investments/accounts etc of the situation and ask for some form of protection to be applied, be it a password or a warning marker to ask them to contact you in the event of any funds attempted to be withdrawn, or details being amended etc (or any unusual level of contact). I would suggest highlighting this to your financial adviser also to ensure they have some visibility.
- To pre-empt any financial services products being effected in your names with existing providers or elsewhere, you can effect a protective registration with a charity fraud prevention organisation known as CIFAS (see link below), where they will alert you of any activity.
- You can also register (usually for free) with one of the credit reference agencies for a regular update on your credit report (I have provided the link to Credit Karma, a free service provided by TransUnion – formerly CallCredit), but the other agencies, such as Experian and Equifax also provide such services (link below).
- If you own property, you should also consider registering for a free Property Alert with the Land Registry, in case someone tries to do something with your property (link below).
- As a victim you should you should make a report to the Police via their online reporting website ‘Action Fraud’ (link below). The Action Fraud site will also contain advice relating to scams etc as will other sites such as Citizens Advice (as well as the credit reference agencies and your bankers).
- You may also want to seek advice from the DVLA and/or passport office regarding any action they may recommend where such forms of ID may have been compromised.
- In the coming weeks/months please be very cautious of anyone other than your bank offering to recredit you with money, particularly if they ask for a fee in order to proceed.
If you are ever in doubt, or are planning on making a large transaction, please speak to your Financial Adviser / Accountant who should take proactive steps to help protect you against fraud. We will continue to support our clients and help to keep them safe.
The FCA also has a warning list on their ScamSmart page, which you can check here: https://www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart