More than £750,000 has been shelled out in six months by victim of share scams in Lancashire, concerned detectives revealed today.
Financial crime officers at Hutton Police HQ are investigating six complaints from people tricked into ‘investing’ thousands of pounds by bogus companies since April - but fear incidents are underreported due to victims being embarrassed.
One vulnerable elderly woman was tricked into giving more than £400,000 to ‘invest’ in energy shares, but people have also been persuaded into buying bogus shares in petrol companies.
DC Mark Aldridge, said: “ Six may not seem a lot, but in each case thousands have been lost. We are concerned there are other cases not reported.
“The scam usually involves cold callers from abroad promising “high returns” if someone invests in a company - but usually the companies are fake or poorly performing.
They then continue to pressure them for more money, leading to what we call a “boiler room” situation.”
To make them appear legitimate, scammers set up convincing websites that appear to be linked to genuine investment companies.
Today, an 83-year-old retired tradesman told the Evening Post how he was convinced by a fraudster appearing to know his investment background, after he bought shares a few years ago.
The widower, who ran his own successful business, said: “ I made every check I possibly could and even I was fooled.
“I was contacted by someone claiming to be from a reputable Danish bank offering the chance to invest in a petroleum company.
“They are very, very convincing, and they seem very genuine because they know about investments you have made in the past.
“I’m lucky because I can stand a hit like this but to others it will be devastating.”
Anyone affected should call police on 101 or Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.