Investment scams

What is an investment scam?

Any investment opportunity that promises a high return with little or no risk is likely to be a scam and your money is at risk. Investment scams are increasing and they’re getting more and more difficult to spot.

Did you know?

  • The majority of victims of scams are experienced investors
  • The Financial Conduct Authority estimates £200 million to £500 million is defrauded from victims in the UK each year
  • The average victim of an investment scam loses £20,000 and some lose much more.

Fraudsters can pretend to be a genuine financial adviser, or company, by setting up fake company websites and using fake email addresses.

They may advertise to you online or send you a message out of the blue with a deal. It’s easy to become a victim of fraud if you click on an advert or reply to a message.

Use the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) website to find genuine contact details for a company and links to their website.

How to spot an investment scam

If you’re offered a new investment or savings bond from us, always be suspicious. We’ll never sell this to you directly.  Recently, a scam used a fake brochure using our branding:

Fraudsters create glossy brochures to tempt you to invest. These may appear genuine at first as they often include a mix of real information taken from our website and brochures and correctly include our website address.

Always check if the correct spelling of Scottish Widows Ltd is shown within the email address they’ve used to send it to you.  Here are some examples of scam emails to look out for.

Spelling mistakes or grammatical errors may also suggest the documentation isn’t real.

If you suspect you’ve been sent a letter or brochure that isn’t real, there are several ways to check:

  • You could visit our contact us page  and phone a number you find there
  • You could get someone you trust – a family member or friend – to help you make the call
  • If you have a financial adviser, you could ask them to contact us
  • Check to see if you can find a previous letter or statement that you know is genuine.


Fraudsters are constantly thinking of new and clever ways to get hold of people’s money and personal information so it's important to be vigilant. We’ll never rush you into an investment decision so if you suspect something isn’t real, take the time to consider any information you’re sent, or have been told, before taking action.

How to avoid being scammed

  • Be alert to the fact that a fraudster may have gone to some effort to make things appear real.
  • They will often call you a number of times, slowly developing a friendly relationship, to build trust and eventually persuade you to part with money. Having got some of your money, they will probably call again for more, perhaps from a different product.

    Fraudsters may also approach you if you’re a victim of investment fraud to claim they can recover money. They will request an upfront fee but will not recover any lost money.
  • Don’t respond to callers trying to sell you investments – stay safe and hang up the phone.

    It’s against the law to cold call a person and try to sell them shares or other investments. They’ll promise you a sure win to make money but you’re more likely to lose any money you give them. Most of these calls are made from overseas in ‘safe’ jurisdictions that are immune from UK law, so you’re unlikely to even be able to claim compensation.
  • Reject pressure into buying because the offer won’t be there tomorrow. Hang up and take a day or two to consider options and take independent advice.
  • Do your own research – if you hear about an investment bond or ISA opportunity from any companies, or comparison websites, it is important to do your own research.

    Use the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) website to find a list of companies that have been cloned, this list will include us.
  • Always get financial and/or legal advice before committing to any investment.
  • Never send money to anyone you do not know.

For more information on scams involving investments, visit

How to report an investment scam

If you think you may have been approached, or are a victim of investment fraud, please call us. You can also call Action Fraud on  0300 123 2040  or the FCA's consumer helpline on 0800 111 6768.

Remember that if you are a victim of a scam or an attempted scam, however minor, there may be hundreds or even thousands of others in a similar position. Your information may be useful in stopping this happening to others.