The UK-based organization, The Investment Association (IA), a trade body that represents UK investment managers has made a statement warning the public, specifically those that hold savings or other investments, of possible increases in scams related to the current Covid-19 pandemic.
The organization says that: “early evidence suggests that some scammers are attempting to use the pandemic to convince savers and investors to withdraw money from their investments. Investment management firms have seen a noted increase in this criminal activity, previously focused on retail banking customers.”
Furthermore, the organization explains that criminals are using increasingly aggressive tactics, for example, posing as the police to convince one saver to withdraw the money held in their saving bond. While law enforcement authorities may be aware of such activity and are working in cooperation with the association, it is important for investors to know some of the “tweaks” scammers have made to some of the traditional criminal activity:
- Phishing emails: investment managers have noticed a spike in phishing emails, with COVID-19-related themes, to steal personal and financial data. One firm’s anti-spam software detected 513 different files containing malware with coronavirus in their title by the end of March.
- Smishing texts: similar to phishing, text messages are being sent to clients and investors, impersonating trusted organisations to try and trick investors into giving away their personal and financial information or money. These scam texts claim to be from government departments, investment managers, banks or ‘establishment’ organisations, offering payments or claiming to be issuing fines related to COVID-19.
Christopher Cummings, the CEO of the IA, summed up the issue very well, but saying “if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. That’s why today we are reminding savers and investors to take all necessary, vigilant steps to protect their hard-earned savings from ruthless financial criminals.”
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