IA warns savers of potential COVID-19 scam spike

Wednesday 29 April 2020

Vulnerable and at-risk groups are today being warned by the Investment Association of the potential risks posed to their savings and investments from scams and financial crime during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Early evidence suggests that some scammers are attempting to use the pandemic to convince savers and investors to withdraw money from their investments. Investment management firms have seen a noted increase in this criminal activity, previously focused on retail banking customers. Criminals are using increasingly aggressive tactics, for example, posing as the police to convince one saver to withdraw the money held in their saving bond.

New and increased financial criminal activity has been identified by investment managers and national authorities in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with more traditional criminal activity being given a new COVID-19 twist:

  • Phishing emails: investment managers have noticed a spike in phishing emails, with COVID-19-related themes, to steal personal and financial data. One firm’s anti-spam software detected 513 different files containing malware with coronavirus in their title by the end of March.
  • Smishing texts: similar to phishing, text messages are being sent to clients and investors, impersonating trusted organisations to try and trick investors into giving away their personal and financial information or money. These scam texts claim to be from government departments, investment managers, banks or ‘establishment’ organisations, offering payments or claiming to be issuing fines related to COVID-19.

Chris Cummings, Chief Executive of the Investment Association, said:

“Sadly, criminals never miss a trick, and so during this time of heightened criminal activity, we are urging savers and investors to think very carefully about the risks criminals pose to their financial wellbeing and life-long savings.

“If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. That’s why today we are reminding savers and investors to take all necessary, vigilant steps to protect their hard-earned savings from ruthless financial criminals.”

The IA is urging anyone who suspects fraudulent activity to follow the advice of the National Crime Agency, and:

  • Stop: Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.
  • Challenge: Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
  • Protect: Contact your investment manager immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud.


Notes to Editors:

  • More resources on spotting and tackling scams and criminal activity can be found on the National Crime Agency and Action Fraud websites. You can report a case of fraud online on the Action Fraud website here.

For further information, please contact:

Katie Martin, Head of Communications: [email protected]

T: +44 (0)20 7269 4655

Helen Ayres, Communications Manager: [email protected] 

T: +44 (0)20 7269 4620

David Parton, Communications Executive: [email protected]

T: +44 (0)20 7269 4625

IA press office: [email protected]

T: 020 7269 4696

About the Investment Association (IA):

  • The IA champions UK investment management, supporting British savers, investors and businesses. Our 250 members manage £7.7 trillion of assets and the investment management industry supports 115,000 jobs across the UK.
  • Our mission is to make investment better. Better for clients, so they achieve their financial goals. Better for companies, so they get the capital they need to grow. And better for the economy, so everyone prospers.
  • Our purpose is to ensure investment managers are in the best possible position to:
    • Build people’s resilience to financial adversity
    • Help people achieve their financial aspirations
    • Enable people to maintain a decent standard of living as they grow older
    • Contribute to economic growth through the efficient allocation of capital.
  • The money our members manage is in a wide variety of investment vehicles including authorised investment funds, pension funds and stocks and shares ISAs.
  • The UK is the second largest investment management centre in the world, after the US and manages 37% of all assets managed in Europe.