Trading Standards Warn Of New Investment Scam
Friday, 02 November 2012
Hampshire County Council's Trading Standards officers are warning people to be on their guard against a new investment scam targeting residents across the county.
Trading Standards have received a number of complaints from people across Hampshire including residents of Aldershot, Hythe and Petersfield, about a scam involving fraudulent telemarketers who are making unsolicited phone calls to shareholders of well-known companies, and promising to buy their shares from them, for much more than they are worth. The cold-callers claim that they are working on behalf of a client who is trying to increase their holding.
The businesses do not correspond using post and instead ask for the shareholder's email address. If the consumer does not have an email, they have suggested using the local library's fax machine. Individuals are then expected to collect the paperwork, complete it, and return it with a copy of their shares certificate.
Although it would appear that no payments have yet been made by any Hampshire residents, Trading Standards and the Financial Services Authority (FSA) are warning that after building up a relationship of trust with consumers, the company may attempt to take payment, claiming that it will release the funds in exchange for the shares. Once a payment has been made to the organisation, the victims are unlikely to hear from them again.
This caution follows a recent warning from the FSA about a company working under the name of 'Williams Consultancy Limited', which is based in the USA. Although at first, the company appears to be reputable and legitimate, they are not authorised to carry out regulated activities in the UK, because of this, the FSA will not intervene in the event that money is lost.
Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Ken Thornber, said: "Boiler room scams use high-pressure sales techniques to persuade victims to buy or sell shares which may not exist or turn out to be worthless. They not only target vulnerable residents but also investment professionals and in some cases victims have been cheated out of thousands of pounds because organisations can use very convincing techniques.
"It is important that everyone is sceptical about any unsolicited offers. If it seems 'too good to be true', then it probably is. The advice is never to give out your details to any companies that are unknown to you, and in particular, if you're asked, never provide your bank details for any kind of payment. You should never have to pay in advance to release funds. If in doubt, contact Trading Standards via the Citizen's Advice Consumer Service on 08454 04 05 06."