An unprecedented period of low interest rates appears to have already given fraudsters and scammers the ideal basis to lure victims into highly creative but ultimately flawed investment schemes. Many “investors” looking for healthy returns have lost thousands and more in anything from investments in car parking spaces, hotel rooms and mini-bonds to worthless overseas properties and non-existent cryptocurrencies. Most of those schemes are not covered by the FSCS compensation scheme and more of often than not, victims will ultimately become creditors in insolvent estates with little left to distribute. Early involvement of lawyers and insolvency practitioners can sometimes enhance the prospects of successful recoveries and clawbacks from the masterminds behind the schemes through the powerful tools available to the insolvency officeholder.

The cost of living crisis will clearly give further opportunity to scammers to target vulnerable victims looking to mitigate the impacts of rising costs of goods, services and fuel and energy. Scams involving fake rebates, cheap rents or quick income will be tempting to anyone severely affected by the crisis and ruthless fraudsters will be as quick off the mark as they were during the pandemic when the government was handing out “free” money.

Anyone considering such offers should as always think carefully whether it sounds too good to be true. Being asked for bank details or advance payments or being party to a “secret” scheme that apparently no one else knows about are all clear red flags that should set alarm bells ringing. Proposals to consolidate debts and making repayment through a single agent should also be scrutinised carefully. Proper background checks on registration or licensing through regulatory bodies should always be a starting point and contacting an independent body, such as the Citizens’ Advice Bureau, can never hurt. Equally, those of us practising in the fraud and asset recovery and enforcement community are usually well placed and prepared to provide guidance and input at any point where potentially questionable schemes are concerned.