Find out how share and bond scams work, how to avoid them and what to do if you’re scammed.First published: 10/08/2017 Last updated: 20/03/2023 See all updates
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Share and bond scams are often run from ‘boiler rooms’ where fraudsters cold-call investors offering them worthless, overpriced or even non-existent shares or bonds.
Boiler rooms use increasingly sophisticated tactics to approach investors, offering to buy or sell shares in a way that will bring a huge return.
But victims are often left out of pocket – sometimes losing all of their savings or even their family home.
Even experienced investors have been caught out, with the biggest individual loss recorded by the police being £6m.
Beware of clone firms
Many fake firms will use the name, firm registration number (FRN), and address of firms and individuals who are FCA authorised. This is called a clone firm. Scammers may even copy legitimate websites, making subtle changes such as changing the phone number.
How to protect yourself
You should only deal with financial services firms that are authorised by us.
If you use an unauthorised firm, you won’t have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service or Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) if things go wrong – and you’re unlikely to get your money back. This includes buying mini-bonds, which are generally risky investments.
You can check the FCA Warning List for firms to avoid.
Always be wary if you’re contacted out of the blue, pressured to invest quickly or promised returns that sound too good to be true.
If you're contacted unexpectedly by a financial business or individual, make sure you reply using the contact details on the FS Register.
Find out more on how to protect yourself from scams.
If you've been scammed
If you’re worried about a potential scam or you think you may have been contacted by a fraudster, report it to us. Call us on 0800 111 6768 or use our contact form.
If you’ve already invested in a scam, fraudsters may try and target you again or sell your details to other criminals.
The follow-up scam may be completely separate or related to the previous fraud, such as an offer to get your money back or to buy back the investment after you pay a fee.