Reports of investment fraud have been steadily increasing in the UK since 2013, a freedom of information (FOI) request made by AJ Bell revealed.
In the FOI, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) showed 6,908 cases reported in 2013, compared to 9,398 reports in 2018, a 36% increase over the five years.
The increase also applied to the first half of 2019, counting 8,153 reports, up nearly 50% (4,113) from the same period in 2018, a staggering 80% fall.
Pension scam reports, however, have been decreasing over the same timeframe. The Bureau recorded 1,828 cases in 2013, while only 345 scams were reported in 2018.
But that does not apply to H1 2019, as 215 fraudulent scams were reported to the NFIB, compared to 146 during the first six months of 2018, showing a 32% increase.
“Financial fraud in the UK is mutating, with the number of victims of older-style ‘pension liberation’ scams dropping in recent years on the back of a series of government interventions – including the ban on cold-calling – and a significant industry-wide public awareness campaign,” said Tom Selby, senior analyst at AJ Bell.
“However, as pensions-based scam reports have fallen, the number of people falling prey to scams focused on their investments has continued to rise and look set to hit record highs in 2019.
“This might reflect the fact more people are now reporting being scammed to the relevant authorities, or it could be because fraudsters have shifted their focus to investment-based schemes.
“Either way, these figures clearly demonstrate that scams remain a clear and present danger to savers who need to be vigilant when deciding how to invest their money.”
Be on alert
In the last financial year (2018/19), over 125,000 people have lost their money to pension scams, a survey by wealth management firm Succession Wealth revealed earlier this year.
Similarly, consultancy firm XPS Pension Group said that it has seen a 34% rise in the number of clients reporting scam activity on pension transfers in June 2019, compared to 13% in the previous year.
Research by the Financial Conduct Authority and The Pension Regulator also confirmed this, as they found that more than 40% of Brits – over five million – risk falling victim to pension scams.