New figures released today by Action Fraud and the City of London Police showed that over 77per cent of all victims reporting investment fraud are men with the average age of 65.
Their average loss is over £32,000 which is more than the current average salary (£27,270). Most of the victims who reported live in major cities.
In 2014 the City of London Police, City of London Corporation Trading Standards, Metropolitan Police, National Trading Standards ‘Scambusters’ Team, HMRC and the FCA, launched Operation Broadway, a London-wide intelligence-led drive to uncover and disrupt suspected ‘boiler room’ investment frauds operating out of some of the capital’s most iconic buildings in the heart of the UK's main financial districts.
Operation Broadway teams have conducted inspections and disruption raids at over 100 offices in the City and Canary Wharf since its launch. Police and trading standards chiefs believe this has created a hostile environment for fraudsters.
Last Thursday the Money Laundering Investigation Unit disrupted a suspected boiler room in the City of London, selling fake bonds.
Two search warrants were executed: One in Fleet, Hampshire, and other in Lothbury, City of London. Two cheques, totalling £130,000 were seized , together with other documentary items, as part of the operation.
But despite this type of work, UK-wide investment fraud reports to Action Fraud increased by 9.5 per cent last year - from 2,910 in the financial year 2014/15 to 3,186 in 2015/16 - indicating criminals are operating boiler rooms in new locations in the UK.
Detective Chief Inspector Dave Manley, head of the City of London Police’s Fraud Squad and Operation Broadway lead, said: “Investment fraud continues to be a major threat to individuals in this country and statistics show that those who are over 60 are particularly vulnerable to this type of crime.
“Fraudsters will do everything they can to manipulate potential victims and convince them that they are making genuine investments.
“Unfortunately once a victim is sucked-in by a fraudster they often end-up parting with a significant amount of money and this can have devastating effects on both the individual and their families.
“The City of London Police is the national policing lead for fraud and it is our job to work with police forces across the country as well as with our partners to ensure that criminals such as investment fraudsters are disrupted and ultimately prevented from committing crime.
“By raising awareness of investment fraud we hope to enable people to recognise when they are being targeted by the criminals and to stop them before it is too late”.
Jon Averns, City of London Corporation’s Head of Trading Standards said: “Working with our partners across London, we are creating a hostile environment for fraudsters who are duping people with the promise of high returns on false investments.
“We are identifying fraudulent traders as early as possible in order to prevent consumers from across the UK being ripped off.
“Our message is simple: don’t send your money to someone you don’t know, for a product you haven’t seen.”
Jennie Granger, HMRC’s Director General, Customer Compliance Group said:“In 2014/15 HMRC prevented the loss of £1.3 billion in the most serious cases relating to organised crime.
“Our work with the City of London Police and partners helps HMRC in its role as an Anti-Money Laundering supervisor to prevent fraudulent activity, protect the public, and bring criminals to justice.”