Hampshire Constabulary has issued a warning after reports of investment fraud spiked following the first lockdown.

In the county, cases dramatically increased in June, July and August, which police said was “likely caused by more people spending time indoors due to the global pandemic.”

Across the year, this saw a five per cent increase in the number of investment fraud cases from last year, but a 24 per cent increase in their value, with losses rising from £8.3 million last year to £10.3 million.

Detective Inspector Sue Orr, Economic Crime Unit at Hampshire Constabulary, said:

“Now that England is facing another lockdown, we’d like to remind Hampshire residents that if you’re contacted out of the blue by someone not known to you, pertaining to provide you with an ‘excellent’ and ‘very profit driven’ investment, to be cautious.

“We would implore you to think twice before handing over bank account details or sensitive information and consider whether this opportunity is too good to be true – and if it seems so, decline the opportunity.

“To keep yourself, and others, safe take a look at the Financial Conduct Authority’s ScamSmart warning list if you’re considering making an investment. Please always report suspicious investment opportunities to Action Fraud.”

Investment fraud is when victims invest in schemes or products that are worthless or do not exist, often following a cold call, unsolicited email or social media approach.

Nearly a fifth of Hampshire victims were aged between 70 and 79, while those aged 60-69 were the second most likely to be targeted by fraudsters. Data also suggests that the majority of victims were men, who made up 60 per cent of reports in the past year.

Across the UK as a whole, Action Fraud, the national fraud and cybercrime reporting centre, Fraud received just over 17,000 reports of investment fraud over the year, amounting to £657.4m in reported losses.

For more information on investment fraud, and how to protect yourself from it, please visit: https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/a-z-of-fraud/investment-fraud