For a while now, scammers have been targetting the national press through fake news, unwitting journalists and press releases. This is perhaps the most dangerous type of scam as one assumes that journalistic articles in the national press as properly fact-checked and research.
In a recent Good Money Guide survey we did through YouGov on attitudes to online advertising the national press only 15% of those of the 2,000 people who completed the survey said they would trust financial adverts in articles in the national press. Thankfully, even fewer people 3% said they would trust adverts from social media influencers. The most trusted source of financial advertising is apparently comparison sites that are regulated by the FCA with 45% saying they trusted adverts on them.
Examples of investment scams in the mainstream media
Here is a prime example of an article in the Mail Online which has essentially covered a successful forex trader who can teach others to make money in the forex market. Followed more recently by an article in the Daily Mail again, where the same trader had been FCA warning list of unauthorised traders on and is being looked into by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau after investors reported him to Action Fraud
It’s not just the Mail Online either, a while ago, other major media outlets including The Times could have been duped.
Advertorials and articles are particularly dangerous when discussing financial products as I think people are slightly more inclined to believe an article written by a journalist than anything else. And if there is an article about how great something is chances are people are going to be curious and look it up. It’s not related to finance, but this is possibly the best advert for a pair of running shoes I’ve ever seen. I’m not a competitive runner, but I’ll almost definitely get some because pretty much every newspaper has said they are so good, they should be banned.
How do investment and trading scams work?
I’ve long talked about scams within the world of trading and investing. But you still have to be careful of people warning against scams. It’s one of the oldest tricks in the books for scammers to say, “Look how that guy’s scamming people. I don’t do that. I don’t scam people”. Then they go and scam you in a different way.
There are really three main types of trading scam.
- Trading educators charge people to teach them how to trade.
- Trading educators don’t charge people to teach them to trade. Instead, they refer them to a broker that makes money on their B-Book when the client loses. They then split the losses made by the introduced client with the broker.
- Traders get cold-called or respond to an advert online, open an account with a scam broker, who either outright steals their money, or advises them to put trades on which results in either a huge amount of commission generated or the loss of their funds.
Sometimes it can be a combination of all three.
What is the FCA doing about investment scams?
The powers that be have tried, the FCA joined Instagram to warn against Forex and Crypto scams.
However, changes to the FCA register mean that for some firms you can only see senior management at firms. Up until recently, you could see the details of everyone who would be talking to customers. This was helpful for checking to see if a salesman that has contacted you has worked at dodgy firms in the past.
To see what I mean you can see my entry in the FCA register. It tells you where I am regulated now and where I have been regulated in the past.
The FCA does publish a searchable list of unauthorised firms and individuals conducting regulated business without being regulated. They also have a scam checking tool where you can check to see if the investment you are considering may be bogus.
You can also report scams directly onto the FCA website. If you fill it in you should get a response from them.
What are advertising networks doing about investment scams?
Celebs are wising up to the fact that forex might not be for everyone, especially since Ronaldo’s gaffe when he tweeted about forex trading, to an audience it was clearly unsuitable for.
But still, these adverts get through, the now merged Taboola and Outbrain (who host sponsored clickbait content below online articles) are horrendously guilty letting fake articles promoting scams onto their network. They have a policy of not allowing them, but they still get through.
As do adverts on Google and Facebook (the World’s two largest advertising networks). Although they have banned the advertisement of derivatives and crypto products to anyone that is not a regulated provider, adverts still show up on a daily basis, using fake celebrity testimonials to promote crypto scams.
For example, Martin Lewis of MoneySavingExpert.co.uk sued Facebook after over 1a thousand scam adverts abusing his name or image had slipped through the net and were promoted on social media.
If you are going to invest, make sure you do your due diligence before handing over any money to anyone.
You can read up on how to avoid specific types of scams below:
- Social media scams
- Crypto trading scams
- Bond and fixed income investment scams
- Investment ISA scams
- Pension scams
For official information from the FCA see their ScamSmart page.
Richard founded the Good Money Guide (previously Good Broker Guide) in 2015 and has been a broker for 20 years most recently at Investors Intelligence and previously a multi-asset derivatives broker at MF Global (Man Financial). Richard started his career working as a private client stockbroker at Walker Crips and Phillip Securities (now King and Shaxson) after interning on the NYMEX oil trading floor in New York and London IPE in 2001 & 2000.