Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Shocking Cost of Get-Rich Scams; LONDONERS FLEECED OUT OF PS3m a Month by Fake Investments in Wine and diamondsCon Trick Victims Losing a Total of PS92,000 Daily from Investment Frauds Alone

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Shocking Cost of Get-Rich Scams; LONDONERS FLEECED OUT OF PS3m a Month by Fake Investments in Wine and diamondsCon Trick Victims Losing a Total of PS92,000 Daily from Investment Frauds Alone

Article excerpt

Byline: Justin Davenport Crime Editor

CONMEN are fleecing Londoners out of nearly PS3 million a month in a range of sophisticated investment scams, a senior police officer warned today.

Thousands of people are falling victim to cons involving speculating in goods ranging from rare metals and wine to property and alternative energy.

Det Supt Jayne Snelgrove, head of Scotland Yard's Falcon cyber-fraud crime unit, said investment fraud was one of the most prolific crimes being tackled by her force.

"We are seeing significant numbers of investment frauds as conmen target older people, not just because they are vulnerable but because of the cash in their accounts," she added. "These are too-good-to-be-true investment opportunities. The commodity is almost irrelevant.

"There are wine investment frauds, coloured diamonds are often offered, plus oil, carbon credits -- you name it."

In some cases victims were persuaded to invest in foreign land to be used for crop growing. They are often given official-looking documentation regarding the investment, only to find the company disappears overnight with their cash.

Police also say there is evidence of scammers targeting the elderly to get hold of pension savings in the wake of the recent financial reforms. A number of elderly victims put money into what they believed were "Government over-65 bonds" -- but which turned out to be fake investments.

City of London Police are also reporting a surge in investment scams operating from some of the Square Mile's top Continued on Page 4 Continued from Page 1 addresses, including Tower 42. Figures show that between February and April this year 115 victims reported losing PS8.2 million -- a rate of PS2.7 million a month, or PS92,134 each day, in investment frauds alone.

Det Supt Snelgrove said conmen typically used a "Ponzi-style" scheme where victims' investment money was passed on to a previous victim, so people believed they were getting a good return -- until the money ran out.

Speaking a year after the 300-strong crime unit's launch, she said investment fraud is just one of a range of cons it is investigating. …

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