The quick witted cop who busted a national investment fund scam
THE suspicions of a sharp-eyed Plymouth police officer has helped uncover what has turned out to be a multi-million pound national scam involving investment in rare earth metals.
Police have now issued a warning about the con in an effort to safeguard elderly investors from further loss.
Detectives from Plymouth police's Financial Investigation Unit were alerted to the fraud after a police constable made a routine visit on a man in his 80s regarding a completely separate matter.
The Herald has learned that following her visit, as the officer was leaving she became aware the elderly man was about to head off to the bank to pay in a five figure sum to secure an investment.
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A brief chat about the investment aroused her suspicions and she passed on her concerns to detectives from the Financial Investigation Unit.
Devon and Cornwall Police are now liaising with investigators at the City of London Police's who have taken the lead role in the nationwide scam which has since emerged.
Police sources have told The Herald the number of victims across the country could run into the thousands.
Police said the fraud involves victims being 'cold called' and persuaded to invest substantial amounts of money in rare earth metal oxides.
The investment potential is either hugely exaggerated or it involves a worthless commodity.
Initial investigations have led officers to examine firms across the UK as well as abroad.
A police spokesman said: "The victim tends to be elderly and contact is usually made by telephone and following pressurised selling, considerable amounts of personal savings are deposited into seemingly bone fide company bank accounts in the hope of a future substantial return, which in fact never materialises.
"Nationally, the fraud totals millions of pounds, and the number of victims falls into thousands with five victims identified in Devon and Cornwall."
While the investigation is currently ongoing and the force is warning the public to be aware of the scam.
Det Sgt Mark Newnham of the Financial Investigation Unit, said: "The extent of this scam is huge and anyone could become a victim of persistent fraudsters.
"Although there are bone fide companies who deal legitimately in metal investments this particular fraud involves investment in very poor valued or worthless commodities.
"Genuine companies do not 'cold call' and use intimidating and persuasive tactics and I would urge anyone who is contacted out of the blue regarding such investments to think very carefully.
"Do not agree to invest on a whim without making basic checks into the company".
Additionally if you think that you have been a victim of this fraud then please contact
Fraud Action on 0300 123 2040 or report online at firstname.lastname@example.org