Clone firm alert

It has been brought to our attention that there are scammers representing themselves as Fairstone offering various investments including cryptocurrency trading plans.

To demonstrate credentials and gain trust, these individuals may send you a driving licence or passport with a photo of your adviser or a senior manager at Fairstone.

These are fake. Fairstone would not communicate in such a way or send such a document.

Please be alert and report to your adviser and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) if they make contact with you. Only use the contact details from your existing adviser as previously agreed or contact our Head Office on 0191 519 6000 or info@fairstone.co.uk Don’t trust new email addresses or contact details.

 

Protect yourself from scams

Scams are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Fraudsters can be articulate and financially knowledgably, with credible websites, testimonials and materials that are hard to distinguish from the real thing. The FCA has made firms like Fairstone aware that scammers are targeting consumers searching for investments online through search engines like google and Bing. Some scammers offer high returns to tempt you into investing and some offer realistic returns to make their offer appear legitimate.

Clone firms are fake firms that are set up by scammers using the name, address and ‘Firm Reference Number’ (FRN) of real companies authorised by the FCA. Once set up, these fraudsters will then send sales materials linking to websites of legitimate firms to dupe potential investors into thinking they are the real firm when they are not.

There is a range of information on www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart that will help you protect yourself.

 

Reject unexpected offers

If you’re contacted out of the blue about an investment opportunity, chances are it’s a high-risk investment or a scam. If you get cold-called, the safest thing to do is to hang up. If you get unexpected offers by email or text, it’s best to simply ignore them.

 

Spot the warning signs

  • Unexpected contact – traditionally scammers cold-call but contact can also come from online sources e.g. email or social media, post, word of mouth or even in person at a seminar or exhibition.
  • Time pressure – they might offer you a bonus or discount if you invest before a set date or say the opportunity is only available for a short period.
  • Social proof – they may share fake reviews and claim other clients have invested or want in on the deal.
  • Unrealistic returns – fraudsters often promise tempting returns that sound too good to be true, such as much better interest rates than elsewhere. However, scammers may also offer realistic returns in order to seem more legitimate.
  • False authority - using convincing literature and websites, claiming to be regulated, speaking with authority on investment products.
  • Flattery – building a friendship with you to lull you into a false sense of security.
  • Remote access – scammers may pretend to help you and ask you to download software or an app so they can access to your device. This could enable them to access your bank account or make payments using your card.

 

Check if a firm is FCA-authorised

  • The FCA is advising anyone considering an investment or pension opportunity to check their warning list of firms FCA Warning List - investment scam checker | FCA, which is updated daily and not deal with firms that are not authorised by the FCA.
  • Almost all financial services firms must be authorised by the FCA – if they’re not, it’s probably a scam.
  • Check the Financial Services Register | FCA to see if a firm or individual is authorised or registered with them.
  • Always access the Register from the FCA’s website, rather than through links in emails or on the website of a firm offering you an investment.
  • Check if the firm’s ‘firm reference number’ (FRN) and contact details are the same as on the Register.
  • If there are no contact details on the Register or if the firm claims they’re out of date, call the FCA Consumer Helpline on 0800 111 6768.

 

Be wary of future scams

  • If you’ve already invested in a scam, fraudsters are likely to 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.
  • If you have any concerns at all about a potential scam, contact the FCA consumer helpline immediately on the number above.

 

If you have any concerns, please speak to your financial adviser or call our Head Office on 0191 519 6000.