/ Scams

Scam watch: fake investment bank offering ‘refunds’

Have you ever been contacted by a suspicious ‘investment bank’? Here’s how one company got in contact with a member offering a ‘refund’.

A member received a bizarre email from ‘GFC Investment’ referring to them as a ‘depositor’. It claimed to be an investment bank ‘working to acquire a new and more robust regulation’ and that part of the process involved paying a refund. They were asked to reply with their phone number.

The email has all the hallmarks of a scam. The member told me that a few years ago they lost  £500 in an investment scam that was advertised online with a phoney endorsement from the stars of Dragons’ Den.

The scammers in that case hounded them on the phone with preposterous claims about investment opportunities. Smelling a rat, they requested their money back, but it was never returned.

What is a ‘recovery scam’?

Fraudsters do target prior victims, claiming to help recover losses, only to defraud them further. This is known as a ‘recovery scam’. Sometimes it’s the same set of fraudsters, while on other occasions your details have been stored and sold on to a different set of scammers.

GFC Investment isn’t an official company registered at Companies House, although there are companies with very similar names (and there’s no suggestion that they are linked to fraud).

The stated office address is little more than an anonymous PO box for hire and has an unsavoury history: in 2013 it was the home of an (apparently unrelated) fraudulent company later liquidated by the High Court. Even so, the postcode in the email contains typos.

Lastly, the email ‘borrowed’ the name of a US-based criminology graduate who is listed on LinkedIn, whose profile makes no mention of GFC Investment.

Unsolicited contact

We put these allegations to ‘GFC Investment’ via its stated email address but received no response.

As for the prior scam, we suggested that the member apply to their credit card company for a refund of the £500, claiming under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.

There’s no set time limit to submit a claim, but there are some exemptions so a refund isn’t guaranteed. Since your personal details are in the clutches of fraudsters, the member will need to continue to be cautious about any unsolicited contact they receive.

Have you ever been contacted by a company offering ‘investment opportunities’? Did you suspect it was a scam? Let us know your experiences in the comments.

Patrick says:
17 March 2022

There should be more in place in Banks to prevent any loss of money,There should be trained staff who immediately step in to help! As a victim you should not be fobbed off by untrained staff and also they have no excuse not to be answering the phones.

SpikeT says:
17 March 2022

It isn’t always the Bank’s fault. They aren’t the ones offering these ‘investment’ opportunities Sometimes it’s a lack of commonsense.

Kenneth McFarlane says:
17 March 2022

The banks do bear a large responsibility for the crooks’ being able to receive moneys from scams. They are opening accounts for fraudsters without due care and attention to the scammers proper identity.
The banks have to be much more diligent and pro active especially in being able to recover moneys received in these accounts through fraud.

John Rigby says:
17 March 2022

In 2017 I responded to an email from London Capital and Finance Ltd, offering an 8% p.a. return on investments.
As it appeared too good to be true, I sought the advice of Which Money. In a phone conversation (which sadly I did not record) I was told the investment looked sound.
I took out a 3 year bond for £6000. All went well until January 2020 when LC&F went into administration.
There is a happy ending – in December 2020 the FCA sent me a cheque and reimbursed me for 80% of my investment
There is a court case pending so hopefully the perpetrators will end up behind bars!

I am surprised that Which? Money gave such advice. I would have thought an 8% return on an investment in 2017 would have been seen as well above the norm and, therefore, subject to a high risk. As you thought, too good to be true.

Certainly some high-yielding investments do pay off but there is a proportionately higher risk attached to them, so your capital may be wholly or largely lost. That is the normal trade off that we must accept. A gamble.

I am contacted weekly by someone claiming to recover my money invested in a trading company and also by phone several times a day but I have been advised by the police and various other agencies to ignore these people and I do. Should someone call and their telephone number is not in my contacts, the call goes to voicemail and if no message is left, I then block it.

John Rigby says:
17 March 2022

In this scam, my loss was small. Some people lost their life savings.In total the scammers took £236 million from victims

Patricia says:
17 March 2022

I fell for the DRagons DEn hook too. Thank you for letting me know I shouldn’t get involved in the recovery scam. They keep phoning me, even though I am a 80 year old disabled pensioner and have told them so.

Patricia — I am sorry you fell for the Dragons’ Den deception. Were you able to make an official claim for recovery of your loss?

Unfortunately, it is because you are an 80-year old disabled pensioner that scammers are persistently pestering you, such are the evil minds of these criminals. They assume that you might be of feeble mind and stuck indoors all day. Take care.

Janet Hardacre says:
17 March 2022

I also made a small investment after viewing the Dragon’s Den video. It all happened so quickly and I think I was caught off guard, so when I told a family member, they suggested that I inform the bank. The advice from the bank was to watch and see what happens and to come back to them if there was no further contact after the money had been withdrawn from my account. Two months down the road I am still in contact with the original company and being taught how best to ‘invest’ with a little pressure every now and then to invest more which I have resisted. I am being very careful and writing everything down that I’m being told, including the info that my ‘small sum is making money for me! I must admit to being confused about the whole thing.

Colin J says:
17 March 2022

Well done Janet for resisting their pressure to invest more. This sounds like a classic con technique, once you have invested some and they build up your trust with apparent ‘gains’ they get you to invest more.
The crunch comes when you ask to withdraw your investment…
The bank’s advice sounds bizarre. Did they investigate?

Andrew says:
20 March 2022

You are being scammed here. Try and remove your money (you wont be able to)

Stop all contact with them and go the bank explaining you have been scammed.

18 March 2022

I have advised this time and time again – and elderly, vulnerable folk would benefit greatly from this tip. Buy yourself a BT phone which deters nuisance and scam calls. It has answerphone as well as displaying/recording the caller number (many scams come from “number withheld”) Don’t answer yourself – listen to anything spoken to the answerphone – 9/10 scammers don’t leave a message either. If there is a number recorded, one can select to block it permanently if it is a scam/nuisance call. These phones (land line connected) also allow one to insert numbers of friends/relatives and this allows them to come straight through and not have to declare their identity first. Anyone else – even genuine callers not on your permitted list – have to state who they are while you listen, and if you want to connect, you simply press the “call accept” button. Since installing such a phone several years ago, the level of nuisance calls trying to sell you something you don’t want is now virtually zero. Most mobile phones also allow you to permanently block numbers if you suspect them and don’t recognise them as from a source you know. Main thing is, don’t answer such a call, just block it!!

Andrew says:
20 March 2022

The main culprits here are the search engines.

These companies pay them to come top of the search results.

DAT says:
24 March 2022

Referring to buying a product in a plastic bottle if a refill was available
It should be noted that even the most respected of products said to be friendly using reused plastic makes buying difficult if you do not want to use any kind of plastic because at some time it is going to be thrown away perpetuating the cycle of mini pellets going into the water system and being eaten by fish etc. We have made an exceedingly difficult bed to lie on. A flat rock rule has to be brought in. No plastic at all to be reused. What is the matter with the old-fashioned bottle? In my youth we got tuppence back to encourage us to save them. Great addition to pocket money.

DAT — In weighing up the environmental disadvantages of different approaches in a materialistic society we have placed reduced weight [to save transport pollution] above sustainability and potential existential damage. Presumably, because of globalisation, we have lost the art of having both; it has arguably improved the lot of certain populations but is destroying the habitats of others. “Civilisation” might require a new definition now.

I do wonder why we need to transport many drinks long distances, and why we put water in bottles when we have it on tap. Why we need to sell vast quantities of fizzy drinks when we could make them at home given concentrate and a fizz machine. Why we cannot have far more products from local breweries. And then, as DAT says, use returnable glass bottles (worked once, didn’t it).

We do need to rethink where products are made and the environmental costs of distribution. Local bakeries for example.