164% increase in investment scams in 6 months

Massive increase in investment scams with people being duped out of significant sums of money.

There has been a 164% increase in investment scams recorded in the past six months, according to Bank of Ireland.

In July 2022, investment fraud accounted for 80% of personal customer losses, which ranged from €2,000 up to €800,000.

“In the last six months, cases of investment fraud have more than doubled. People will always look for ways to invest their money and maximise returns”

Fraudsters, which try to pose as legitimate firms in a range of ways, offer these investments by telephone call, text message, email, letter or even through home visits.

If something is too good to be true, it most likely isn’t

A common tactic is to promise very high returns and then put people under pressure to commit to the investment opportunity quickly. 

People can fall victim to these scams when they are researching products that offer better returns such as investments, bonds and bitcoin.

Fraudsters try to pose as legitimate companies by developing convincing or professional looking websites, producing documents which appear to set out the details of the ‘investment’, or offering investors a dedicated page on a website where they can check on their ‘investment’. These are all false however, and the goal is simple – to steal any money handed over. 

“In the last six months, cases of investment fraud have more than doubled. People will always look for ways to invest their money and maximise returns,” said Edel McDermott, head of Fraud at Bank of Ireland.

“That is to be expected. But in this and all things, stop and think – if something looks too good to be true then it is too good to be true.

“Fraudsters draw people in by promising huge returns, and then tell them they have to act quickly in order to invest. This tactic is seeing more people losing large sums of money, on supposed ‘investments’ in cryptocurrencies, bonds or shares that don’t actually exist.

“An investor who falls victim to these fraudsters and hands over money is unlikely to see their money again as the funds are quickly moved onwards to offshore accounts, for example, meaning little chance of retrieving funds. By being aware of how these false firms turn up and the tactics that they use, consumers and investors can take steps to protect themselves against fraud and financial loss,” McDermott warned.

How to protect yourself against investment fraud

  • Always seek independent financial and legal advice before making any investments.
  • Be wary of cryptocurrency investment advertisements. Ignore POP-UP ads.
  • Investments that appear to be endorsed by celebrities turn up all the time – they most likely do not know their name is attached to the advertisement.
  • Never make a snap decision.  Don’t get rushed. If you feel under pressure, just STOP. Only use regulated entities. All Financial Services Providers which hold an authorisation from the Central Bank of Ireland (‘Central Bank’), or where applicable, the SSM (the Single Supervisory Mechanism – European Central Bank), to provide financial services in Ireland are listed in the Central Bank of Ireland Register.  Prior to entering into a financial services transaction, members of the public can check the regulatory status of the firm they are dealing with on Central Bank of Ireland Registers section of their website.
  • Never disclose security details, such as your PIN or full banking password and do not download any applications that allow others access to your device/computer. Fraudsters often use reputable and familiar remote access applications to dupe you into allowing remote access to your device/computer and, in turn, your personal information. 
  • Be suspicious of unsolicited calls, emails or SMS messages. Listen to your instincts – if something doesn’t feel right then stop and question it.

Useful resources in the fight against investment fraud

John Kennedy
Award-winning ThinkBusiness.ie editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.