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17 Sep 2021

'I've lost £100,000 to an investment scam, can I recover my money?'

Which? helps an investment scam victim get their money back

Do you have an issue you need to put right? Which? is here to help sort your consumer problems.

Dear Which?,

In November 2020, I searched online for an investment to help fund my retirement and gave my details to some of the websites.

A few days later, I received a call and some documents from 'Axa investments'.

I checked that the phone numbers and addresses in the documents were genuine, and matched the Financial Services Register, before transferring £100,000 to the firm.

However, I couldn't contact Axa to confirm receipt of the money, so realised that I might have been scammed.

Will I be able to recover the money?


Put to Rights

Mike Naylor, Which? Money Helpline adviser, says: You've been the victim of a clone investment scam, where fraudsters imitate firms. The money had gone to a CurrencyFair account used by the fraudster, not Axa.

Your bank, Barclays, was able to recover £25,000, but refused to refund the rest, despite being signed up to the Contingent Reimbursement Model. Under this voluntary code, banks should compensate victims of bank transfer scams who've taken precautions.

This was despite you having made several checks before making the transfer, including enquiring about how to do it in a branch.

After speaking to the Which? Money Helpline, you eventually made a complaint to the chief executive of Barclays in April.

Barclays finally agreed to refund the £75,000 you had lost, plus £3,106 in interest.

It acknowledged the checks you had carried out and said that it had missed an opportunity to educate you about the possibility of investment scams.

Checking that firms' details match the Financial Services Register is important. But you should check it before engaging with companies, using the website addresses from the Register to avoid copycat sites.

When investing large amounts, or any changes to your pension, consider getting independent financial advice.

Need to know

  • Scammers can create copycat websites and documents that include genuine contact details, firm reference numbers and FCA/FSCS logos.
  • Don't share your details with unverified investment websites.
  • If you're interested in investing with a firm, check its name and investment on the FCA Warning List.
  • Use the Financial Services Register to find the correct contact details and website address for that firm.

Get in touch. If you've got a consumer rights problem you need put right, email us at yourstory@which.co.uk.

Please be aware that we can't help with, or respond to, every email that we receive. The inbox is monitored periodically during office hours, Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm.

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