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FraudSMART warns of marked rise in serious investment scams

Over 55s key target for increasingly elaborate scams seeking investments of upward of €20,000

Friday 10th March 2023 – FraudSMART, the fraud awareness initiative led by Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI), is warning consumers of a rise in serious investment scams that are highly convincing, appear to be legitimate, but are in the fact the work of fraudsters. Brochures using the names and branding of well-recognised, legitimate bonds and investment schemes are being circulated by fraudsters and advertised online.

Outlining how consumers are being caught out, Niamh Davenport, Head of Financial Crime with BPFI, said: “In recent months FraudSMART members have noticed a rise in very serious and elaborate investment scams and the numbers are continuing to increase. The fraudsters hide behind websites, including product comparison websites, which appear to be legitimate and also make contact via cold calling, unsolicited emails, social media and text messages.

Initial indications suggest that the scams are particularly targeted at those in the over 55 age bracket with a minimum investment of €20,000 and in many cases upwards of that. While the amounts may seem high it’s important to point out that the victims are not necessarily wealthy customers, but often people on low to average incomes who have worked hard all their lives to build up a pension and are at a stage where they are looking for a last opportunity to top up their finances ahead of retirement. In one reported incident an older customer was about to invest €60,000 from their pension into what appeared to be a legitimate scheme. Fortunately, the customer made a call directly to their bank before pushing the payment through and this meant that the fraud was identified and averted.

I think we would all like to believe that we would recognise a scam if we saw it, but the truth is any of us can fall victim to fraudsters if we’re not on the alert. It is really important for consumers, particularly those coming close to or at retirement age who are a key target group right now, to be aware that the scams offer very convincing investment opportunities and once the money is ‘invested’ it disappears with no redress once the money is handed over to an unregulated ‘firm’. The rule of thumb is ‘if it looks too good to be true it probably is’.

FraudSMART is calling on the public to stay informed, alert, and secure and follow the tips below.

Red flags to look out for:

  • You are cold-called about an investment opportunity – i.e. you receive an unexpected telephone call/e-mail/social media message.
  • You are rushed and pressured into making a decision there and then, with no opportunity or time to consider the details of the investment.
  • There is a promise of a quick and profitable return on the investment with little or no risk.

Checklist to avoid investment scams:

  • Stop and think: Does this opportunity sound too good to be true? If so, it probably is.
  • Take your time: Important to note that there are very few legitimate investment opportunities that require you to hand over or transfer money immediately.
  • Research thoroughly: Check the individual and firm for qualifications, credentials, reputation and history. The Central Bank Consumer Hub is a good place to start.
  • Verify the Information: Check all information with a trusted third party such as a legal/financial professional and consult family and close friends.

Further information on investment scams and other fraud types can be found on the FraudSMART website

About FraudSMART: FraudSMART is a fraud awareness initiative developed by Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) in conjunction with the following member banks, Allied Irish Bank plc, Bank of Ireland, KBC Bank Ireland, PermanentTSB, Ulster Bank, An Post Money and Barclays. The programme aims to raise consumer and business awareness of the latest financial fraud activity and trends and provide simple and impartial advice on how best they can protect themselves and their resources.

About BPFI: Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) represents the banking, payments and fintech sector in Ireland. Together with its affiliates, the Federation of International Banks in Ireland, and the Fintech & Payments Association of Ireland, BPFI has over 125 member institutions and associates, including licensed domestic and foreign banks and institutions operating in the financial marketplace here.

For further information, please contact Fiona Murphy, Head of Communications, 087 9740046, or Jillian Heffernan, Director of Communications, 087 9016880,