Fraudsters target 11,000 shareholders Criminals use database to share consumers' details

09 December 2008

Shares, circled in red, in a newspaper.

The Financial Services Authority has warned 11,000 UK shareholders that their personal details feature on a database used by fraudsters.

Potential victims of the fraud would typically be cold called by crooks using high pressure sales technique to sell non-existent or worthless shares. If they fall for the scam they could lose thousands of pounds.

The industry watchdog obtained the database, known as a ‘suckers list', from the Canadian authorities and has sent a letter to anyone whose details appear on it. Recipients are warned that if they fall foul of the scammers they won’t have access to UK compensation schemes because the crooks are not regulated by the FSA.

Shareholders can avoid becoming victims of the fraudsters by being wary of unsolicited contact from firms selling shares. They are advised to

  • check that the firm is on the FSA register
  • hang up if they feel uncomfortable with the call
  • report the company making the cold call to the FSA.

Jonathan Phelan, head of retail enforcement at the FSA told consumers: ‘The details on the database provide fraudsters with valuable information that can be used to convince people that they are dealing with legitimate stockbrokers, in order to win their trust. These criminals sound authentic, are smooth talkers and can be very persistent. If anyone calls you out of the blue offering to sell shares, just hang up or you stand to lose a lot of money with very little hope of ever getting it back.’

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