From time to time, fraudsters and unauthorised companies approach individual investors, usually by phone, offering to buy their shares at massively inflated prices, or to sell shares at a discount. If you receive a suspicious phone call, please report it to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) using the share fraud reporting form available at https://www.fca.org.uk/consumers/report-scam-unauthorised-firm, where you can also find more information about investment scams.
The Warning to Shareholders set out below is based on a warning produced by the FCA. It was produced to raise awareness of a fraudulent practice known as boiler room investment scams, so called to describe high pressure phone sales operations.
These operations may acquire shareholder lists legitimately using data provided in accordance with company law or from other sources. The Companies Act 2006 has introduced greater protection for shareholders with tighter rules on access to company registers, including a new offence of abuse of the register and proposed changes to the requirements for shareholders' details to be disclosed. However, it will do little to protect investors whose names and contact details are already in circulation amongst the boiler room operators. Find out more at www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart.
Warning to Shareholders - Beware of share fraud
Fraudsters use persuasive and high-pressure tactics to lure investors into scams. They may offer to sell shares that turn out to be worthless or non-existent, or to buy shares at an inflated price in return for an upfront payment. While high profits are promised, if you buy or sell shares in this way you will probably lose your money.
How to avoid share fraud
- Keep in mind that firms authorised by the FCA are unlikely to contact you out of the blue with an offer to buy or sell shares.
- Do not get into a conversation, but note the name of the person and firm contacting you and then end the call.
- Check the Financial Services Register from www.frc.org.uk to see if the person and firm contacting you is authorised by the FCA.
- Beware of fraudsters claiming to be from an authorised firm, copying an authorised firm's website or giving you false contact details.
- Use the firm's contact details listed on the Register if you want to call it back.
- Call the FCA if the firm does not have contact details on the Register or you are told they are out of date.
- Search the list of unauthorised firms to avoid at fca.org.uk/consumers
- Consider that if you buy or sell shares from an unauthorised firm you will not have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service or Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
- Think about getting independent financial and professional advice before you hand over any money.
- Remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Report a scam
If you suspect that you have been approached by fraudsters please tell the FCA using the reporting form at www.fca.org.uk/scams. You can also call the FCA Consumer Helpline on 0800 111 6768 (freephone) or 0300 500 8082 from the UK, or +44 207 066 1000 from abroad.
If you have already paid money to share fraudsters you should contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or online at www.actionfraud.police.uk.
Please also inform Vodafone's registrars, Computershare.