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Get savvy against scammers

Retired teachers Paul and Mary are devoted parents and grandparents to their three

children and eight grandchildren. As their family started to grow, they decided they

wanted to begin saving for their grandchildren’s future. Disappointed with the returns

from their savings accounts, they decided to look into other investment opportunities.

After comparing a number companies online, they settled on one and made a £30,000

bank transfer. Within just a few months, their initial investment had grown sizably.

Soon afterwards, their eldest grandchild passed his driving test. They decided they’d

like to buy him a car, so they made a withdrawal. Being able to do this so easily

cemented their trust in the investment company. Over the next year, they made several

more deposits.

Paul and Mary then agreed they’d like to help one of their children with a deposit for a

house. However, when they tried to withdraw the majority of their original investment,

they couldn’t access their money or get through to the company by phone, email or any

other means. It was at this point, they realised they’d been scammed.

On top of wiping out most of their life savings, the scam took a toll on the couple’s

mental health. They both suffer from feelings of embarrassment and guilt, and Paul has

developed severe depression.

Anyone can fall victim to a financial scam

Although Paul and Mary feel foolish, financial scams can be extremely sophisticated and

trick the savviest of us. We’re used to hearing stories about elderly and vulnerable

people being conned but recent research by Lloyds Bank found 18 to 24 years olds are

most likely to fall victim to investment scams, making up approximately 25% of all

cases. And, in fact, victims aged under 45 account for 70% of all reported investment


Types of financial scam

Financial scams take many forms including high-return investment opportunities, like

the one Paul and Mary fell for, pensions transfers and health insurance supplements.

Criminals use phishing (emails) or smishing (texts) to impersonate trusted

organisations and trick people into giving away their personal information or money.

Top tips to avoid being scammed

1) Follow the advice of UK Finance’s Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign:

  • Stop: Take time to stop and think before parting with money or personal


  • Challenge: It’s ok to refuse or ignore requests that make you feel uncomfortable.

Only criminals will try to rush or panic you

  • Protect: Tell your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam and

report it to Action Fraud

2) Great deals don’t come looking for you. Scammers often advertise on social media

and the internet. They may also send ‘deals’ by email, phone or direct message.

3) Make sure it’s genuine. As in Paul and Mary’s case, scammers can easily set up fake

companies, profiles and websites. Don’t underestimate the lengths a fraudster will go to

in order to convince you they’re genuine. Before parting with any money, it’s a good

idea to seek professional advice. You can also use the FCA website to check the details of financial services companies.

4) Protect your payments. Consider your payment method. It’s very hard to get money

back if you pay by bank transfer. Paying by card offers the greatest protection.

If you’d like help with any aspect of your finances, we’re here to help.

Watch the video below for more information.

Key takeaways:

  • If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

  • Give yourself time to think before parting with personal information or money.

  • Speak to a professional before making big decisions about your finances.


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