Avoiding investment scams

How to protect yourself against clone firms

At Wesleyan, your online security is a priority for us. That’s why when you’re managing your investments online, we have stringent measures in place to protect your details.

However, it’s still important to be vigilant. In particular, you should watch out for scammers that may try and target you through emails and other methods. These scammers contact unsuspecting investors and offer products or deals with unrealistic returns, often using ‘clone firms'.

What are clone firms?

Clone firms are fraudulent companies set up to look like genuine financial services firms. They ‘hijack’ the name, firm registration number, address, names of employees and more, doing their best to convince you they’re the real deal.

 

What do scammers want?

They’re normally after your money and your information. They might trick you into filling out a form that asks for your details and will take any funds that you hand over for these ‘investments’.

To add insult to injury, scammers may also contact you after the scam has taken place, masquerading as a law firm that will help you get your money back (for a fee of course).

What can you do to protect yourself?

While you can feel safe in the knowledge that Wesleyan have processes in place to combat scammers, there are some steps you can take to avoid their attempts:

Ignore unsolicited calls and emails

At Wesleyan, we never cold call the general public. Be cautious of any phone calls or emails that offer ‘too good to be true’ investment products, such as a bond that’s above the market rate. You should also watch out for misspelt email addresses. A scammer may use a company name but change the spelling slightly, for example ‘Wesleyam’ instead of ‘Wesleyan’.

Take care when responding to social media ads

You may be tempted to click on an advert that promises good investment returns but be aware that it may lead you to a fake website. Tell-tale signs include slightly altered URLs or websites that only feature a few pages. 

Be cautious of clicking on website links or downloading files

If you receive an email from a company you’ve not heard of, we advise not clicking on any links or attachments in the email. We suggest searching online for a company’s website address and contacting the company directly via the general switchboard number.

Clones often mimic a company’s communications, including colour schemes, wording and logos from regulators. If you’re ever in doubt, delete the email and visit the company via Google or another search engine.

Check official listings

If something doesn’t look right, check the FCA register for a company’s phone number, email and address. Some scammers may claim that official FCA details are out of date, but this is generally a ruse to put you off the scent.

You can also try conventional ID checks, such as directory enquiries or Companies House. The FCA also publishes a warning list of known scams, but remember, even if the deal you’re checking isn’t on that list, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s genuine.

Pause for thought

Don’t be rushed into making quick decisions. Legitimate companies won’t pressure you to move your money quickly. Never give out bank or credit card details unless you’re confident you know who you’re dealing with – it could cost you more than you anticipated.

Report a scam

Help others by reporting a suspected scam to the FCA Consumer Helpline on 0800 111 6768. If you’d like to learn more about spotting scams, visit the ScamSmart website.

Contact our Money Laundering Reporting Officer

If you have any questions or cause for concern, you can email us at MLRO@wesleyan.co.uk