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Every year in the UK, an estimated £1.2bn is lost to investment fraud. Find out how to spot an investment scam and use the FCA Warning List tool to check the risks associated with an investment opportunity.

The FCA receives around 5,000 calls a year about suspected investment fraud with the average investor losing £20,000. But only 10% of all crimes are reported, meaning the number of people affected by investment scams is much higher.

They are usually difficult to spot because they're designed to look like genuine investments. However, there are some tell-tale signs that suggest the investment opportunity is likely to be very risky or a scam.

Investment scammers may do one or more of the following:

  • Contact you unexpectedly about an investment opportunity via cold calls, emails or follow up calls after sending out a promotional brochure.
  • Pressure you to invest in a time-limited offer, e.g. offer a bonus or discount if you invest before a set date.
  • Downplay the risks of an investment, e.g. they could talk about how you will own the actual assets they may sell if the investment doesn’t work as expected or use legal jargon to mislead you.
  • Promise you tempting returns that sound too good to be true, e.g. offer much better interest rates than those offered elsewhere.
  • Call you repeatedly and keep you on the phone a long time.
  • Say they’re only making the offer available to you or even ask you not to tell anyone else about the opportunity.

If you recognise any of these, you have every reason to be suspicious. Follow the advice from the FCA:

  • Reject cold calls.
  • Get independent advice.
  • Check the FCA Warning list to find out if the company you'll be investing in is unauthorized.

Use the FCA Warning List to check an investment

Remember: If you’re called about an investment opportunity, the safest thing to do is just hang up.

For more information on investment scams, visit the FCA SmartScam website.

Further information


Our Information guides are short and easy to digest, giving a comprehensive overview of the relevant topic. Information sheets and factsheets are longer with more detail, and are aimed at professionals.

You can download other guides in our series from publications

For more information: Call Age NI Advice: 0808 808 7575

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