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Warning to Shareholders - Boiler Room Scams

In recent years, many companies have become aware that their shareholders have received unsolicited phone calls or correspondence concerning investment matters. These are typically from overseas based 'brokers' who target UK shareholders, offering to sell them what often turn out to be worthless or high risk shares in US or UK investments. These operations are commonly known as 'boiler rooms'. These 'brokers' can be very persistent and extremely persuasive. A 2006 survey by the Financial Services Authority reported that the average amount lost by investors is around £20,000.

It is not just the novice investor that has been duped in this way; many of the victims had been successfully investing for several years. Shareholders are advised to be very wary of any unsolicited advice, offers to buy shares at a discount or offers of free company reports.

How to avoid share fraud

1.      Keep in mind that firms authorised by the FCA are unlikely to contact you out of the blue with an offer to buy or sell shares.

2.      Do not get into a conversation, note the name of the person and firm contacting you and then end the call.

3.      Check the Financial Services Register from www.fca.org.uk to see if the person and firm contacting you is authorised by the FCA.

4.      Beware of fraudsters claiming to be from an authorised firm, copying its website or giving you false contact details.

5.      Use the firm’s contact details listed on the Register if you want to call it back.

6.      Call the FCA on 0800 111 6768 if the firm does not have contact details on the Register or you are told they are out of date.

7.      Search the list of unauthorised firms to avoid at www.fca.org.uk/scams.

8.      Consider that if you buy or sell shares from an unauthorised firm you will not have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service or Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

9.      Think about getting independent financial and professional advice before you hand over any money.

10.  Remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

Report a scam

If you are approached about an investment scam you should tell the FCA using the share fraud reporting form at www.fca.org.uk/scams, where you can find out more about investment scams. You can also call the FCA Consumer Helpline on 0800 111 6768.

If you have already paid money to share fraudsters you should contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

Details of any share dealing facilities that the company endorses will be included in company mailings.