Digital theft in the UK is seeing a shift in focus from one group of profitable targets, to another crowd that is exposing an increasing number of lucrative possibilities. We are talking about online scammers’ recent deviation from targeting pension savings to dabbling in financial investment frauds instead.
Reports of pension frauds show a large downward spiral for the past five years or so, as showcased by 2018’s 345 cases of pension frauds compared to the whooping 1828 cases in 2013. Nevertheless, the FCA, the Financial Sector Regulator and the Pensions Regulators all issued an official research stating that more than 5 million people are at risk of pension related scams.
Cyber criminals are still aiming for pensioners, yet their tactics have evolved, and here is where online investment frauds come into play, or as Chief Inspector Paul Carroll claims:
“We have, however, noted an increase in people falling victim to investment scams and suspect people of a pensionable age may be being targeted for such scams given the large funds immediately available to them.”
Who better to target than out-of work retirees with relatively sizable pensions and all the time in the world? This is just part of their targeted demographic; anyone with a decent internet connection and a working phone is a potential victim.
Here’s where things get worrisome. Investment frauds are expected to double, even triple, this year in comparison to 2018’s numbers. During the first 6 month of 2019 8153 investments frauds have been reported, which is almost on par with the total number of scams reported in 2018, namely 9398 cases.
As we have previously seen, the most popular investment scams have to do with Forex and Cryptocurrencies, but also overseas property and really anything that promises a better life than the status quo. In the scammers repertoire the cold-call always remains their number one choice of conducting their practices, offering investment opportunities (for example) on behalf on some disreputable company or broker. Before proceeding with any sort of monetary transaction always check with the FCA first; they will give full details of the company the caller claims to be working for.
In recent months, we have seen a rise in counter measures, like the FCA’s consideration on banning all sales of crypto derivatives to retail investors or Facebook’s new tool for reporting false ads, but the question of will these be enough still lingers.