FSA to contact people listed in fraudsters' 'phone books'
Tuesday 24 April 2012
Nearly 80,000 people who feature in fraudsters' "phone books" are
to be contacted by the City watchdog in the biggest operation of its
The 76,732 names have been drawn from various "sucker lists" held by companies which the Financial Services Authority (FSA) believes were selling investments in land or shares that turned out to be non-existent or worthless.
Letters from the regulator will arrive at the addresses of those on the list over the next six weeks as part of a campaign known as Operation Bexley, and the FSA is also sending email warnings to just over 19,000 people on the list whose addresses were not recovered.
The letters warn potential victims to "stay alert" even if they have not already been offered unsolicited investment advice, as lists are often traded between fraudsters, meaning they could be contacted in the future.
Combined into one list, this is the largest number of targeted people that the FSA has contacted in one go.
Jonathan Phelan, the FSA's head of unauthorised business, said: "If you get a letter or email from the FSA over the next five or six weeks, please read it - it could save you tens of thousands of pounds.
"If you have already been contacted by a firm offering you a 'once in lifetime' investment opportunity or have already invested, then tell us. The information you have could help us catch criminals and shut down their scams."
The FSA said recipients should be aware that the watchdog will not call them for more information or ask for money, bank account or personal details.
The largest list was recovered from the premises of a firm that the FSA believes was operating an unauthorised business, which it said cannot be named due to continuing legal action.
All of the lists are believed to be current and were being used either to sell fake or worthless shares, or plots of land with the promise of great investment returns once developed, even though this was unlikely ever to happen, the regulator said.
Mr Phelan said: "These lists are nothing more than fraudsters' phone books and the people that use them are ruthless, calculated and will stop at nothing to steal your money.
"A call out of the blue is one of the hallmarks of investment scams, so if you ever get an unexpected call with promises of fantastic returns, you should be extremely sceptical."
The FSA said that people who have been contacted by a firm offering to buy or sell investments should be especially wary if they have been "cold-called" out of the blue.
They should check the status of the firm with the FSA and call them back on the switchboard number provided by the watchdog.
Unauthorised firms are not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and if someone invests through such a business, it is likely they will lose their money if the firm goes bust or disappears.
The FSA has recently issued warnings about "boiler room" fraud, whereby unauthorised overseas companies with bogus UK addresses cold-call people and try to pressure them into buying non-tradable, overpriced or even non-existent shares.
It has also highlighted land banking companies, which divide land into smaller plots to sell to investors on the basis that once it is available for development, the plot will soar in value - but the land often has little chance of being built on.
Such schemes also use unsolicited calls and high pressure to convince people to invest.
The FSA has set up a team to deal with questions about its letters as well as investment scams generally, and it can be contacted on 0845 155 6355.
Several high street banks have also provided phone numbers for their customers to call if they are concerned and callers should quote Operation Bexley.
The numbers are as follows:
Adam & Company, 020 7770 0015
Bank of Scotland, 0845 606 2196
Barclays Bank, 0800 051 6195
The Co-operative Bank, 0845 602 9402
Coutts & Co, 020 7770 0011
Halifax, 0845 601 6954
HSBC, 0845 600 9961
Lloyds TSB, 0845 600 1928
NatWest, 0845 605 0789
Royal Bank of Scotland, 0845 600 8212
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
How couples can protect their financial interests when cohabiting
Authorities failing in hunt for 'most wanted' tax dodgers who owe HMRC £844m
A student's guide to financial survival: You don't have to drown in debt at university
Bargain Hunter: Kit yourself out in sports gear - at a healthy discount of up to 75%
The HiFX guide to managing corporate foreign exchange and international payments
- 1 Arizona shooting: Gun instructor accidentally killed by nine-year-old girl with Uzi
- 2 Miley Cyrus' homeless MTV VMAs date, Jesse Helt, is wanted by the police
- 3 Paul Scholes: Manchester City were so good against Liverpool I felt like turning the television off
- 4 Notting Hill Carnival: Woman shares selfie after being ‘punched in face for telling man to stop groping her’
- 5 Pamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals: 'Mice had holes drilled into their skulls'
Exclusive: We share blame for creating 'jihad generation', says Muslim strategist
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
Arizona shooting: Gun instructor accidentally killed by nine-year-old girl with Uzi
- < Previous
- Next >
iJobs Money & Business
£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: PMO Analyst - Risk - Banking - London - £350 - £4...
£40000 - £48000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Devel...
£45000 - £60000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Swift...
Negotiable: Harrington Starr: A fast growing Financial Services organisation b...
Day In a Page
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize
A three-bedroom red-brick cottage with outbuildings and pretty gardens, £200,000
This three-bedroom flat within a former textile factory spans the corner of the fourth floor and has a balcony