Consumers warned to be alert to investment scams by fake companies

Fictitious and unregulated firms will offer the consumer very convincing investment opportunities promising a quick profit or return after they hand over their money. Picture: iStock

Consumers are warned to be on the alert to investment scams being carried out by false companies offering fake investment opportunities.

Examples of such scams include bogus firms selling cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin as well as offering bonds and share investment opportunities.

FraudSMART, the fraud awareness initiative led by Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) issued the warning following the recent publication by the Central Bank of Ireland (CBI) of details of three new unauthorised firms who are offering financial services including loans and investments without regulation or authorisation from the CBI.

Keith Gross, Head of Financial Security with the BFPI said the fictitious and unregulated firms will offer the consumer very convincing investment opportunities promising a quick profit or return after they hand over their money. "However the opportunity never manifests itself as it simply does not exist. Significantly there is no redress for the consumer or investor once they hand over money to an unregulated firm," he said.

The BPFI said key signs to watch out for with investment scams include being cold-called out of the blue or receive an e-mail about a great investment opportunity and you are rushed and pressured into making a decision there and then.

The Central Bank of Ireland issues warnings on unauthorised firms. "We urge consumers to do their research before making any investment or loan application," Mr Gross said.

"Their first port of call should be to the Central Bank's website where they can check very easily if a firm is regulated or authorised by the Central Bank. If the website/company that is offering the investment or loans is not listed, do not invest or apply for a loan/credit on that website or to that company."

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