FSA warns 75,000 people about financial conmen

The Financial Services Authority is contacting 76,732 people to let them know they are targets for fraudsters trying to con them out of their money.

Their names appeared on a number of lists recovered from companies that the FSA believes were fraudulently selling investments in land or worthless, sometimes non-existent, shares.

Combined into one list, this is the largest number of target victims that the FSA has ever contacted in one go.

Letters from the regulator will be arriving on people’s doormats from today.

Most of the list contains the names and addresses of the targets, but in 19,101 cases only email addresses are listed, therefore the FSA will be sending those people an email warning.

The letter, which can be found online, provides tips on how to spot a scam, avoid becoming a victim and what to do if you have already invested. Recipients should be aware that the FSA will not call them for further information and will never ask for money, bank account or personal details.

Jonathan Phelan, head of unauthorised business at the FSA, says: “If you get a letter or email from the FSA over the next five or six weeks, please read it – it could you save you tens of thousands of pounds. If you have already been contacted by a firm offering you a ‘once in lifetime’ investment opportunity or have already invested, then tell us. The information you have could help us catch criminals and shut down their scams.”

People that have invested are encouraged to contact the FSA directly by phone or make a report via the online reporting forms on the Operation Bexley webpage.

Given the large number of names on the list and the high volume of expected incoming calls to its contact centre, the FSA will be sending the letters and emails out in waves. The first 10,000 letters will arrive today and a further 10,000 letters will be sent each week. The first 5,000 emails will be sent onApril 30, with a further 5,000 each week.

The largest list was recovered from the premises of a firm which the FSA believes was operating an unauthorised business, but cannot be named due to ongoing legal action.

All of the lists are believed to be current and were being used to either sell fake or worthless shares, or plots of land with the promise of great investment returns once developed – even though this was unlikely to ever happen.