£1.3 billion stolen in scams in 2021 – here are some tips for staying safe


man enters card details into laptop

Losing money to a scam can cause serious financial problems and often leave you feeling helpless.

The Times recently reported that the money lost to financial scams has risen by 40% in a year. This is a scary statistic for anyone to read as even the most vigilant can find themselves victim to these deceitful practices.

You might like to imagine that you would spot a scam from a mile away, but modern techniques allow perpetrators to appear legitimate and quickly gain the trust of those they target.

MoneyAge published that an eye-opening £1.3 billion was stolen by fraud and scams in 2021 alone, proving just how prolific the problem has become.

However, this doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to protect yourself from scammers trying to take your money. Read on to discover the scams you should be aware of as well as the best methods to avoid falling for them.

Why are scams so becoming so commonplace?

Modern technology is making the lives of scammers much easier, meanwhile preventing unsuspecting victims from easily discerning something as malicious. Many scammers will impersonate companies and take advantage of official addresses and websites to appear legitimate, should you not take precautions.

Likewise, our reliance on the ease technology provides has led to people being overly trustful of the numerous types of potential scams that exist. Read on to find out about the different types of scams that could fool you and make sure you’re well-prepared.

Pension scams

These are especially dangerous types of scams, as they can lead to the victim losing life savings in an instant.

Commonly, pension scams aim to entice someone with attractive, one-off investment opportunities that require the victim to withdraw much, if not all, of their savings. These investments will be constructed to appear completely legitimate and may catch you out if you’re not cautious.

Some scammers will also promise to unlock your pension early. It’s important to remember that you typically can’t draw from a pension until 55 years old (or 57 from 2028).

Luckily, there are plenty of tell-tale signs that should prevent you from losing your hard-earned savings.


One of the very first signs that someone is trying to scam you is being contacted out of the blue. This is especially relevant to pension scams since, in 2019, cold-calls relating to pensions were banned.

This means, unless you have contacted someone first, you shouldn’t receive any calls offering you pension-related products.

Likewise, emails and texts offering similar deals should always be treated with suspicion – if not ignored.

Attractive deals

The investment opportunities that pension scammers approach you with will likely advertise higher rates of return than most other legitimate options.

It’s worth staying vigilant in this case, as the rates of return may not be dramatically higher than the real ones, however this slight deviation can cause people to let their guard down.

If an offer looks too good to be true, it generally is.

It’s also important to remember – legitimate institutions will rarely make unsolicited contact with you.

Time sensitivity

Genuine providers of investment services do not operate with time-sensitive deals or offers that require you to make a decision the same day. Legitimate providers won’t do this.

Investment scams

Operating largely the same as pension scams, investment scams also attempt to attract the victim with lucrative offers of different types of investment with better returns than traditional methods.

Like pension scams, the culprit will try to pressure you into feeling some sort of urgency to make the investment or transfer the money.

Something to be cautious of is the “halo effect”. This involves the person conducting the scam using overly accommodating language and being too kind. They do this to draw you into a deeper trust and try to make you feel comfortable sending money to them.

Offshore scams

Offshore scams are useful to be aware of and are one of the many narratives that scammers may try to use to steal your savings. Rather than promising impressive returns on an investment, this scam usually works by enticing the victim to send their money to an offshore account or company that promises savings on taxes.

In truth, the funds have likely been transferred to a fake company and subsequently stolen.

This type of scam can often be even more damaging than others since the money is even harder to recover due to it now being overseas.

Clone investment firms

An especially deceptive scam, this method clones the websites of legitimate investment firms and uses these malicious duplicates to trick people into using the site and depositing their funds.

If this wasn’t enough, some scammers will even steal intricate company details to appear legitimate. It’s not uncommon for clone investment firms to use a stolen firm reference number (FRN) so when you do a background check, they appear to have the necessary credentials to certify their authenticity.

Clone investment scams will target companies that are authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) as to give the scammers access to the FRNs and seem more trustworthy.

For this reason, if you suspect any investment opportunity to be a scam, or just question its legitimacy, you should contact Investment Sense with any worries you may have. We can then immediately investigate their authenticity and prevent you from being scammed.

What to do in the event of being scammed

It’s completely natural to experience some kind of emotional distress after being scammed. It’s important not to feel shame as it happens more than you may think.

Reacting quickly could help your case as the sooner you report it, the more chance there is of recovering your funds. As well as this, you could prevent someone else losing their money the same way.

You should report any scams you come across to Action Fraud and provide all the information you can.

Get in touch

If you have been offered an investment opportunity and you would like to check it is legitimate, please get in touch and we can help you.

Please contact us by email info@investmentsense.co.uk or call 0115 933 8433.

Please note

This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.