Also, according to separate data from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the most commonly reported scams in the UK involved investments in shares and bonds, forex and cryptocurrencies by unauthorised firms.
Together, they accounted for 85% of all 5,884 suspected investment scams reported to the FCA in 2018.
Action Fraud director, Pauline Smith, said: “These statistics show that investment fraud is a major threat, with fraudsters doing everything they can to manipulate potential victims into making investments.
“Victims are often coerced or persuaded into parting with significant amounts of money and this can have a devastating impact on their wellbeing and finances.
“We are working with the FCA to raise awareness of investment fraud and would urge anyone who is considering in investing to check with the FCA before parting with their money.”
Industry figures reacted to the huge number involved in the investment scams reported to Action Fraud and the FCA.
Tom Selby, senior analyst at AJ Bell, said the figures are “shocking” and suggested “extending” the government’s cold calling ban for pensions to include investments may not work.
“The reality is scammers’ tactics are already evolving, with increasing numbers of people targeted online via social media,” said Selby. “A cold-calling ban would have little impact on this part of the market.
“Clearly the internet is vast and policing its content has proven an impossible task for governments worldwide so far.
“Ultimately the giant internet and social media companies being used as a conduit for fraud activity need to step up and take greater responsibility for the safety of their users.”
Aegon’s head of pensions Kate Smith, also said investors “shouldn’t be lulled into thinking they are home and dry” with the legislation of the pension cold calling ban.
Smith stated that fraudsters have “chameleon like behaviour, adept at changing to present themselves as the genuine article”.
“Scammers continue to adapt the techniques, using ever inventive methods to scam people. A government led campaign to keep this issue in the limelight would help to combat the scourge of fraud.”
The alarming figures have sparked calls for the investment sector to improve its resources to educate advice clients to spot scammers.
“For many people, telling the difference between a potential scam and a genuine, regulated investment can be really difficult,” said Jane Goodland, corporate affairs director at Quilter. “The power of technology has led to more sophisticated techniques meaning that even astute investors could find themselves a victim.
“Too few people are comfortable with personal finance basics and that means we are vulnerable to making poor choices, including falling for an investment scam.
“Improving levels of financial literacy through financial education in schools will help give consumers the confidence and knowledge to spot a scam themselves.
“It is up to the whole industry to do its part to root out financial scams and educate the public on how to avoid becoming a victim.
“By policing our industry and ensuring those that seek to abuse the system are reported, the financial services industry can help the public and help itself by reinforcing public confidence in legitimate investment companies.”
A recent report by UK financial services firm Just Group has highlighted a change is coming in terms of protecting clients.
It found nearly two-thirds (65%) of financial intermediary firms expect identifying and protecting vulnerable consumers to become an activity formally supervised by the FCA in the next five years.
Mandating greater protections for this group could go some way to shielding them from investment scammers.
The FCA said it is working with financial expert Alvin Hall to educate the public on the most common tactics used by investment scammers.
Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA, said: “The first quarter of the year is a common time for people to make their financial plans for the year, including investments. But before you invest do your homework.
“The FCA is working harder than ever to help protect the public against this threat. Last year we published over 360 warnings about potentially fraudulent firms.
“And we want to spread the message so we can all better protect ourselves from investment scams.”