Op launched to tackle fastest growing fraud in Surrey
Main article content
Surrey Police is supporting a national campaign to tackle a 58% increase in reports of investment fraud across the county.
The campaign, Op Giantkind, is spearheaded by partner agencies including the National Economic Crime Centre, City of London Police and the Financial Conduct Authority.
Heightened by the Covid-19 pandemic, investment fraud has been growing in prevalence across the country, with an average loss of £21,000 per victim in Surrey.
Investment fraud typically starts with an unsolicited phone call from someone claiming to be from an investment company. They try to persuade the victim to invest in materials like diamonds or rare metals, land or alternative energy, with the promise of large returns on their money. The victim is encouraged to invest large sums of money, sometimes their pension or life savings, only to lose the whole sum.
Some of these scams appear incredibly authentic – with fraudsters pretending to represent investment firms which the victim may’ve invested in before. This is what happened to James, 75, from Surrey, in June last year:
James was contacted by a man purporting to be from an investment company he had been a client of previously. Several emails and phone calls later, the opportunity to invest more money seemed genuine, so James decided to go ahead. He sent £50,000 via bank transfer.
When James contacted the firm to check on his investment, they didn’t recognise the transaction he was referring to. They confirmed that he had been the victim of a scam. Fortunately, he was able to get his money back with the help of his bank.
James added: “My friends said to me – we thought you’d be the last person to fall victim to a scam. And I agreed. This investment opportunity seemed to check the boxes. Looking back now, there were red flags which I should’ve noticed.”
Detective Chief Inspector Rob Walker, said: “We’re concerned by the rising rate of investment fraud in Surrey. It’s a heartless crime which often cons the most vulnerable in our community out of their hard earned savings, which can’t always be retrieved.
“Prevention is key and Op Giantkind will focus on raising awareness of how to protect yourself and your loved ones from falling victim to these cruel fraudsters. Please look out for one another and act with extreme caution when an investment opportunity is presented to you or a loved one.”
- If you’re looking to make an investment, check that the person or company are who they say they are by using the Financial Conduct Authority's smart scam list
- Legitimate investment companies will never cold call
- If the investment opportunity seems to come from a reputable firm, contact the firm yourself with the phone number listed on their official website to check
- Fraudsters will contact you repeatedly to build trust – don’t give them anything and hang up or delete their messages
- If a loved one has made large or repeat payments out of the blue, talk to them about the nature of the payments and check they aren’t a scam.
You can report investment fraud scams on Action Fraud’s website or if you feel you, or the person you’re reporting on behalf of, is particularly vulnerable, contact us directly by calling us on 101, always call 999 in an emergency.