12 surefire signs you're being scammed

Tony Levene
by Lovemoney Staff Tony Levene on 01 June 2013  |  Comments 6 comments

Most scammers are guilty of one of these giveaway signs that everything is not above board.

12 surefire signs you're being scammed

I'm used to rip-off firms phoning me, offering dodgy investments. But this week, someone called to speak to my wife.

She was at work so I asked for details. He said she was an active investor and would be interested in what he could offer.

Calling my wife an active investor is somewhere between foolish flattery and fantastic falsehood. She has many interests but finance is not top of the list. Her limit is the occasional look at Nationwide's interest rates.

The guy promised to call back. So far, he has not bothered. But I did manage to wheedle some details out of him, and take a look at his website.

This phone call lasted one minute. Now the probability is you won't be called by this firm. However, its method of entrapping the unaware is the same as every other phone-based investment fraud, so it does not matter which one calls.

Taken from this, here's my top twelve killer signs of a scam.

A call out of the blue

You are phoned out of the blue by an organisation you have never heard of. They will pretend to know a lot about you, mostly by clever questioning. No genuine investment company ever calls in this way – it is a practice banned by regulators Financial Conduct Authority.

The phantom firm

There is no record of the firm on the FCA online register.

But look out for clones which simply steal an identity or near-clones where they use the name of a well known regulated organisation but change one or two details. In the past, there have firms with names such as Barclays NatWest or Prudential Goldman. They are not real – but their victims are.

No track record

The firm claims years of experience but it has just one director who has only been there for a few months. Would you trust a firm with no track record?

Stock photos and no details

Websites follow a pattern – they promise a lot but deliver no detail. They usually feature stock pictures – either City of London views or, a growing trend, photos of sport events. The implication is that rowers or rugby players show class, endurance and effort.

Nameless staff

They talk about “ breadth of experience and skills” but the “our people” page has no names (unless they are cloned). Real companies show key staff, offering biographies.

Talk a good game

They overclaim - ludicrously. They talk about “a dedication to complying fully with the letter and spirit of the laws, rules and ethical principles that govern us. Our continued success depends upon unswerving adherence to this standard.”

They have no intention of following any such standards.

Jack of all scams

They offer a wide range of “alternative” investments, featuring carbon credits, wine, gold, commodities, diamonds, property and other asset classes, promising expertise in all.

Now who in their right mind would expect the jeweller and the wine merchant on the high street to be one and the same? This variety is there to impress – at any one time, they are only flogging one item to victims, using a script which always stresses demand exceeding supply (whether true or not and it's usually not).

Copy and paste

They claim an investment “process with insight”. But it is a platitude such as “making the right investment decisions requires a rigorous, reliable and transparent process”. Well, it's hard to argue otherwise. Equally, “ we know that research provides the backbone to any investment opportunity. Our leading research team provides forward-thinking market analysis and research on a range of asset classes, such as energy, precious metals, biofuels and real estate.”

Note that this section includes assets which are not on the main page and introduces others. This is real copy and paste stuff.

Honestly, I'm honest

They emphasise they are trustworthy. A genuine company has no need to do this.

So stuff like “Core values are, and will continue to be, providing the highest calibre services and investments for our clients. In doing so, both integrity and trustworthiness are central to our business and our relationships.”

New York, Paris, Peckham

The firm claims branches just about everywhere – New York, Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Dubai, Frankfurt for starters. It is never explained what these foreign subsidiaries do or how to contact them. And that's because they don't exist.

A contact page with no-one to contact

The contact page has no names. But it may also feature basic mistakes such as the address of a head office in the City accompanied by a location map of Mayfair. They can't both be right. Always look at the address – it is invariably a maildrop or an office you can rent by the day (if not the hour).

Investing by PayPal

The website features a “payment page” where you can use your credit card or PayPal to send money. Don't.

Remember, scam firms don't have to fail on every one of my dozen points. Just one is enough to set alarm bells ringing.

More on scams:

How scammers make thousands from the desperate unemployed

The scammer who promised I could make money from dog faeces

The retiree waging war on the eBay tractor scammers

The worst scammers I've ever encountered!

The car insurance scam we are all paying for

How this scammer beat his directorship ban

The 'can't lose' holiday property development scam that will cost you big

Multi-million Ponzi fraudster ordered to pay £1 compensation

The fraudsters that will scam you TWICE!

These scammers have cloned an entire company!

Enjoyed this? Show it some love

Twitter
General

Comments (6)

  • CuNNaXXa
    Love rating 410
    CuNNaXXa said

    Be aware of links on websites or in emails, because even though the email hyperlink reads http://GenuineShareTradingWebsite.co.uk, the actual link will probably be http://freehostaddress.freehost.co.ru. How many people check the URL in the address bar before entering their personal details?

    As for disclosing personal information, only do this if you initiate a call. I actually had a genuine call from my bank, and the first thing they tried to do was talk me through security. Which I didn't do. The guy was gob smacked that I refused to comply with his request. As I explained, he could be a scammer. His only advise was that I ring the customer service number of the bank to settle their query. After all, if I initiate the call, I know exactly who I am calling, whereas if I receive a call, I have no idea who the caller really is.

    When dealing with anyone who calls you offering something that appears to be too good to be true, ask them to forward the details through the post. A genuine company will forward the printed details for you, including their business address. If they resist, hang up.

    The best way to avoid being scammed is to cut your plastic up, so you have to set up direct debits or standing orders instead. You may think you have made a single VISA payment, but how do you know that they won't process it as a Continuous Payment Authority instead?

    In fact, if you are serious about not being scammed, send your money to me, and I will look after it for you.

    ;-)

    Report on 02 June 2013  |  Love thisLove  2 loves
  • polyphemus
    Love rating 8
    polyphemus said

    To the stock photos you can add the one of the prosperous looking retired couple smiling smugly at each other.

    Cold calls for investment are a no no for any regulated firm. Default assumption should be that it is a scam.

    Watch out for pension liberation too - that is ALWAYS a scam.

    Report on 06 July 2013  |  Love thisLove  0 loves

Post a comment

Sign in or register to post a reply.

Our top deals

Credit card
company
Balance transfers rate and period Representative
APR
Apply
now

Barclaycard 31Mth Platinum Visa

0% for 31 months (2.99% fee) Representative 18.9% APR (variable) Apply
Representative example: Assumed borrowing of £1,200 for 1 year, at a Purchase Rate of 18.9% (variable), representative 18.9% APR (variable). Credit available subject to status. A Balance Transfer fee of 3.5% will be applied, then reduced to 2.99% by a refund (terms and conditions apply). Plus an additional £20 fee refund on balance transfers over £2000.

Barclaycard 30Mth Platinum Visa

0% for 30 months (2.89% fee) Representative 18.9% APR (variable) Apply
Representative example: Assumed borrowing of £1,200 for 1 year, at a Purchase Rate of 18.9% (variable), representative 18.9% APR (variable). Credit available subject to status. A Balance Transfer fee of 3.5% will be applied, then reduced to 2.89% by a refund (terms and conditions apply). Plus an additional £20 fee refund on balance transfers over £2000.

MBNA 30Mth Platinum Credit Card Visa

0% for 30 months (2.89% fee) Representative 18.9% APR (variable) Apply
Representative example: Assumed borrowing of £1,200 for 1 year, at a Purchase Rate of 18.9% (variable), representative 18.9% APR (variable). Credit available subject to status.
W3C  Thank you for using Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels