The new financial regulator, the FCA (which replaced the embarrassing FSA), is beefing up its help for people who think that they might have been scammed.
And here at Compensation Provider we believe that people need to know to respond if they believe they are at wrong end of a deal put together by fraudsters.
So, here are some steps to take if you think you have been scammed, are being scammed, or, have been an investment scheme which you think might be a fraud.
First things first. Don’t bear yourself up about it if you’ve been ‘done’ so to speak. Modern day fraudsters are not dodgy characters in large coats and trilbies. Most of this crime is committed online where the fraudsters hide behind well constructed websites and cloned identities.
The best way to avoid being caught in the first place is to become a cynic and remember the saying, there is no such thing as a free lunch. If it sounds too good to be true, then it usually is. The good thing about internet scam especially is that they are usually only skin deep. It comes down to a fancy looking website and a few bells and whistles to entice us, the punters.
Also, bear in mind that the best way to get back at these people is to ensure that others know that they are fraudulent. You need to help the police and the regulatory authorities put a stop to their game, otherwise they will continue to rip people off.
The first trick is to run the name of the website into a search engine. If anything negative has been written about the operation, you’ll usually find it on Google, or Bing.
Then look behind the glossy main pages of a website and you can usually spot the dodgy dealers straight away. Look hard at the contact page. Are the management teams’ names there? Do these people actually exist? Do they photographs attached to their names? Do they have UK based landlines? Do they make themselves easy to contact, or do they shy for some reason?
Scam websites are mere shop fronts – a slim veneer which is enough to get you hooked.
What you should always do is check the firm’s name and credentials, and then telephone a regulator to see if they are on the list of approved companies.
In short, do some homework and discover who is trying to part you with your money.
If someone calls you offering the investment of a lifetime, the best response is to put the phone down. Respectable companies don’t run hard-sell telephone campaigns. If you must speak to them, ask them a few searching questions, don’t just listen. Once you turn the screws, it’s funny how many ring-off, or say they will ring back. Ask for the person’s name you are speaking to, their position, their firm’s name and say you need all that information so that you can check their details with the FCA.
Those are the basic steps, but what if you feel you have made a mistake and are already sending money to a dodgy company.
If that’s the case, stop the payments immediately and if they have your personal and bank details, telephone your branch straight away and tell them that the payments have to stop. Don’t forget to add that you are doing this because it may be fraud. The use of the word ‘fraud’ usually gets a bank’s attention.
Next, report the scam to the regulatory authorities, the police and a company like ours. The FCA can be contacted by their website, or contact their Consumer Helpline on 0800 111 6768. If you think you have been the victim of a fraud, you should also contact the police via their website, Action Fraud, or, contact them on 0300 123 2040. Also, give us a call on 01442 825222, or go via our contact page.
Also, be aware that if you have fallen for a scam, you might well be on a list of people who have been successful targeted. These type of lists are goldmines for scammers and they get sold within the fraudster community.
What’s more, and this is quite perverse, is that scammers might well say that you’ve lost money in their original scheme, but them offer to help you recover it, or suggest another investment to make up your losses. Say no to any further monies going their way. Bizarrely, you might even be threatened with legal action, but don’t let them sweat you. By all means get legal advice, but the likelihood is, the last thing they want is the police being involved.
A twist on being conned, is that they very people who have conned you, might then contact you, knowing full well that you are vulnerable and worried about your money, and pose as a money recovery service. They do this by claiming that your name has appeared on a confidential list and they can help claim your money. They claim that they are from organisations such as the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) and the US Securities & Exchange Commission. It’s all baloney! And the dead giveaway if, of course, that to retrieve your money, you need to send them more. There is no more obvious sign that a thing smells bad than asking for money to retrieve money!
Above all, if you have been scammed, don’t do it again. Be doubly cautious, understand the advice we have provided above and think that you yourself that it’s a jungle out there – you stray from the pack and the predators will hunt you down and move in for the kill.
In general though, the best bit of advice is to become a cynical person who questions motives, reasoning, identity, credibility and credulity. Why are people approaching you, what is the reason behind the investment idea, who are these people, do they have a good and honest track record, and does it smell right?
Stay safe out there!