The City of London police and the FSA are warning investors to be on their guard as boiler room fraudsters are using new tactics to persuade investors to pay tens of thousands of pounds for non-existent shares.
Low interest rates have made growth-seeking Middle England savers the perfect targets for the high pressure sales scams, City of London police told the Telegraph.
Jonathan Phelan, the head of unauthorised business at the FSA, told the newspaper that "cloning" was the latest tactic used by the fraudsters. He said he had come across 80 such cases in the past year.
Traditionally, boiler rooms would use a company name that was similar, but not exactly the same, as a well-known high street brand.
In another new twist, the FSA is seeing boiler rooms asking victims to transfer money to British-based bank accounts. In the past, bogus companies asked investors to transfer money overseas.
However, many potential victims have got wise to this tactic and have refused to send money overseas, fearing they are being conned.
Research suggests boiler rooms target older people (50% of investors today are aged over 65) with previous experience of investments or owning shares.
The average amount of money lost is £20,000, but the biggest individual loss to date recorded by the police is £1.2m.
Police have warned the latest boiler room scam is "land banking", where fraudsters try to entice people to buy plots of agricultural land which will be sold for a bumper profit once developers get their hands on it.
But the plots come without planning permission or any guarantee that planning consent is likely, which it isn't.
The leader of a gang of fraudsters who used the lure of the Olympic Games to con pensioners into handing over their life savings has been jailed for seven years.
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