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124 FCA firms cloned in less than 1 year

124 FCA firms cloned in less than 1 year

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has confirmed that, in less than a year, more than 100 companies had been cloned.

The regulator said that between 1st September 2014 and 31st August 2015, it published details on a total of 124 firms cloned by fraudsters.

When contacted about the figure, the FCA said it had a dedicated section on its website to help customers avoid cloned firms.

“We constantly update our website to include names and details of the cloned firms and people can check out details on our ScamSmart website,” said an FCA spokesman.

In September this year, the FCA introduced a new Financial Services Register  aimed at tackling fraud and making it easier for customers to identify cloned firms.

It said fraudsters are always looking for new ways to scam customers, and one increasingly popular method involves share scammers pretending to be from an FCA authorised firm.

“A new tactic has seen fraudsters using the name, ‘firm registration number’ (FRN) and address of firms and individuals authorised by us to suggest they are genuine,” said the regulator.

“This is what we call a ‘cloned firm’.”

The FCA said scammers often give out their own phone number, address and website to possible victims, but is aware that some fraudsters have claimed that an authorised firm’s contact details are out of date on the FCA register.

It says this is highly unlikely as the register is updated every evening.

“These scammers often claim to be from overseas firms that appear on the register as these firms do not always have their full contact and website details listed,” said the FCA.

“These scammers may even copy the website of an authorised firm, making subtle changes such as to the phone number listed.”

The FCA recommends that customers make additional checks to confirm that they are dealing with the financial services firm in question, especially if they have been cold-called.

“This might include checking the details on the firm’s website, or with directory enquiries or Companies House,” added the FCA.

“Also check the address of our website is correct, and there are no subtle changes that means it is a fake.”

In the past three months, Loan Talk has reported on fraudsters cloning FCA authorised firms Norton Finance, Three Rose Lions and Gopher Money.

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