More than half of Brits say that they have been victims of a financial scam, with wealthier people most likely to have been targeted, according to the latest research from Saltus.
The latest Saltus Wealth Index Report surveyed more than 2,000 people in the UK and discovered that 51% had been victim to a financial cybercrime, rising to 67% among High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs) – up from 53% just nine months ago, a rise of 14%.
Victims lost more than £9,000 on average
Of those who say they have fallen victim to a financial scam, 48% lost their money. One in five (21%) admitted to losing more than £10,000 and over one in 20 (6%) lost more than £25,000 but, on average, victims lost £9,094 – the equivalent of £118.3bn lost to scams across the UK.
The data also reveal that the wealthier somebody was, the more likely they are to be targeted by scammers.
Amongst those with investable assets of less than £250,000, over a third of them (36%) say they had been a victim, and only half (52%) got their money back. The likelihood of being targeted – and losing the money – gets higher the wealthier an individual is, with nearly three in four (73%) for those with assets of £1m+ having been scammed, and 55% of those did not get their money back.
Furthermore, wealthier people who fall victim to scams also lost the most, with victims with a net worth of £1m+ losing almost £13,000 on average – almost four times as much as people with a net worth of less than £50,000.
The risk of financial scams continues to rise with scammers using the tough market conditions to their advantage
Saltus has seen a rise in scam attempts in the past year amongst its own clients, and warns that the current low return environment provides criminals with even more opportunity to target wealthier individuals, with a trend for scammers to use the promise of getting higher than market returns to falsely draw investors in.
These types of scams vary, ranging from a simple scam, such as an offer to invest in crypto or a single market, or a more complex scam, such as setting up an unregulated company, receiving an investment into it, then removing the funds and closing the company.
Another scam that could become prolific over the next year is around the FCA’s new Consumer Duty – which sets higher and clearer standards of consumer protection across financial services. This will get a lot of publicity in the summer months when the rules go live. However, this move by the regulator to protect consumers and clean up financial services could actually provide more opportunities for scammers.
Scams to watch out for around this might include being contacted by firms purporting to be the FCA investigating a company for failures under Consumer Duty, for which they may be entitled to compensation. Alternatively, scammers might contact consumers, pretending to be their bank, financial adviser or other business they work with, and ask them to provide personal details in order to confirm their records are correct as part of a Consumer Duty review.
This type of scam was seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, with firms impersonating NHS Track and Trace or the vaccination roll-out. A scammer may also offer a service to review a client’s position for a fee, only to then defraud them of that fee.
Commenting on the research and latest scam trends, Mike Stimpson, Partner at Saltus, says: “Given half of us have been victims of scams, with many of us losing money, it can be very difficult to tell when you are being targeted, so do remain vigilant at all times, and if in doubt, seek advice.
“The golden rule is – if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Always check the authenticity of anyone offering an investment opportunity, and never contact a firm from the details it provides you – do your own independent research.
“We all know that professional advice can help you achieve your financial goals, but one of the lesser known – but hugely important – benefits of having a financial adviser is that they can also help protect you from falling victim to financial crime.
“Financial advisers know the markets, they know when something is not credible and they have your best interests at heart and, ultimately, this means they are your best line of defence when it comes to financial scams.”
To read the Saltus Wealth Index Report in full click here.