More than £2.6bn lost to investment scams since 2020

Investment scams have cost victims more than £2.6bn since the start of 2020, a freedom of information request from the Pensions Management Institute (PMI) has revealed.

The data from the City of London Police’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau revealed that there was almost 100,000 victims of investment fraud between 2020 and 2023, with 2023 seeing the highest number of victims in the four years covered in the research at 26,470.

Between January 2020 and December 2023, victims typically lost an average of £26,773 to investment scams, with criminals stealing an average of nearly £13m every week.

More recently, victims lost a combined £527m to investment fraud in 2023 alone, equal to £1.4m each day, including £106m lost to boiler room frauds and £63m lost to Ponzi schemes.

Indeed, the research showed that boiler room fraud is one of the most common types of investment scam, costing victims £553m over the three-year period from 2020, with 20,789 people in the UK falling victim to this scam.

This was followed by Ponzi or pyramid schemes, another common type of investment fraud where investors are recruited to make payments in return for promises of high profits, as 12,323 victims in the UK lost a combined £499m to Ponzi or pyramid schemes since the start of 2020.

Pension liberation fraud was also highlighted in the research, as the research revealed that there have been 1,451 victims of pension liberation fraud since January 2020, losing a combined £19m.

Whilst there was a slight fall in the number of pension liberation scams, falling from a high of 549 in 2020 to 266 in 2023, the amount stolen did not improve in parallel, with £4.8m lost through pension liberation fraud in 2023, compared to £5.7m in 2020.

PMI President, Robert Wakefield, said that PMI’s research shows a “shocking” number of people falling victim to investment fraud, arguing that it is “concerning” that each year “thousands of people are losing millions of pounds to financial scams in the UK”.

“The number and sophistication of investment scams is ever-growing. By maintaining a healthy dose of scepticism and training yourself to spot some common red flags, you may be able to protect yourself and your loved ones from becoming victims," he continued.

“Increasing the amount of financial education provided in schools could also help to make people more aware of the risks of investment scams.”

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