Scam alert – beware unsolicited contact from people claiming to be us

Penny Kunzig, Partner
Penny Kunzig, Partner and Head of Private Client Administration, James Hambro & Partners

Penny Kunzig, Partner

If you are approached by someone claiming to be from James Hambro & Partners and are concerned about their authenticity, please contact your investment manager. If you are not a client but have been contacted by someone you suspect is not from the firm, please contact us.

Scam attempts by fraudsters posing as legitimate financial firms are increasing across the market, and some fraudsters have been claiming to represent James Hambro & Partners.

Victims of pension scammers lost an average of £91,000 each in 2017, according to industry regulators.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and The Pensions Regulator (TPR) joined forces this summer to build on their ScamSmart campaign, which highlights the risks that investors face from fraud. While the latest element of the campaign focuses on pension scams the advice applies to all areas of investment.

They have urged the public to be on their guard, in particular when receiving unexpected offers, and to check who they are dealing with. The scammers, who are highly sophisticated, lure people into transferring their pensions into fraudulent schemes or into investing in fake investment products.

They are often articulate and financially knowledgeable, with credible websites, testimonials and materials that are hard to distinguish from the real thing.

Research commissioned by the two regulators shows that those aged 45-65 are at most risk. Almost a third (32%) would not know how to check whether they are speaking with a legitimate adviser or provider.

One of the most common opening tactics is to offer a ‘free pension review’. Research reveals that one in eight 45-to-65-year-olds surveyed (12%) said they would trust an offer of a ‘free pension review’ from someone claiming to be a pensions adviser.

Cold calling is currently by far the most common method used to initiate investment fraud. Other scam tactics include:

  1. Unexpected contact about your pension via phone, post or email
  2. Promises of guaranteed high returns and downplaying the risks
  3. Offering unusual or overseas investments that aren’t regulated by the FCA (e.g. overseas hotels, forestry, green energy schemes)
  4. Putting people under pressure to make a quick decision – for example, with time limited offers – and sending a courier round with paperwork to sign
  5. Claiming to be able to unlock money from an individual’s pension (which is normally only possible from age 55)

It is believed that only a minority of scams are ever reported because the victims – often highly educated professionals – are so ashamed and embarrassed at having been duped. The result is that the harm suffered is not just financial but also emotional and mental.

The regulators recommend four simple steps to protect yourself:

  1. Reject unexpected pension and investment offers, whether made online, on social media or over the phone.
  2. Check who you are dealing with before changing your pension arrangements or parting with money. Check the FCA Registeror call the FCA contact centre on 0800 111 6768 to see if the firm you are dealing with is authorised by the FCA.
  3. Do not be rushed or pressured into making any decision.
  4. Consider getting impartial information and advice.

The FCA and TPR are urging anyone who believes they may have been targeted to come forward.

Once again, if you are approached by someone claiming to be from James Hambro & Partners and are concerned about their authenticity please contact your investment manager. If you are not a client but have been approached by someone you suspect is not from the firm, please do call us.

Visit www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart to find out more.

Penny Kunzig

21 November 2018

This is not advice and you should not act on the content of this comment without taking professional advice. Opinions and views expressed are personal and subject to change. No representation or warranty, express or implied, is made of given by or on behalf of the Firm or its partners or any other person as to the accuracy, completeness or fairness of the information or opinions contained in this document, and no responsibility or liability is accepted for any such information or opinions.

The value of an investment and the income from it can go down as well as up and investors may not get back the amount invested. This may be partly the result of exchange rate fluctuations in investments which have an exposure to foreign currencies. Fluctuations in interest rates may affect the value of your investment. The levels of taxations and tax reliefs depend on individual circumstances and may change. You should be aware that past performance is no guarantee of future performance.

 

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