Scams unit helps recover more than £9k

Victims of a sophisticated investment scam who lost more than £9,000 have been reimbursed by their bank thanks to the support of Dudley Council’s scams unit.

The bank agreed to reimburse a Dudley borough couple who were the victim of an investment scam after admitting they were negligent in their advice to the couple about payments to a scam company. It has since apologised and paid the £9,250 lost in the scam plus £250 in compensation to the victims.

The victims had first contacted the scams unit and their bank at the end of 2019, after realising they had been the victim of fraud. They believed they had invested £9,250 in stocks and shares with a company called StoxMarket.

It was in fact a sophisticated scam. The victims were able to access their own accounts, apparently showing the progress of their investments, which in reality did not exist.

The victims invested with this company after seeing bogus celebrity endorsements and had hoped to use the investment to assist an elderly relative living abroad and their severely disabled son.

Often in this type of scam, ‘Investment managers’ contact victims daily encouraging further investments and their accounts show extremely high returns in a very short space of time. The bank initially ruled that they would not reimburse the lost funds but after the scams unit made a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service on behalf of the couple, it agreed to reimburse them.

The scams unit worked with the couple to offer further assistance by installing a call blocker to protect them from scam calls and referring them to the council’s Live Well Feel Safe team. Councillor Nicolas Barlow, cabinet member for health and adult social care, said:

"This is a fantastic result for the couple, I’m so pleased our scams unit has been able to help and recover the funds lost. This was a sophisticated scam, which used bogus celebrity endorsements to trick people into signing up to invest. Always remember if it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is."

In the UK, almost all financial service activities must be authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). People can search their register for firms and individuals and the activities firms have permissions for. If a firm is not registered with the FCA people are unlikely to get their money back if things go wrong.

If anyone is concerned that they or someone they know may have fallen victim to scams, they should contact the scams unit on 01384 818871 or via trading.standards@dudley.gov.uk.

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