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Alert: Emerging trend in investment scams involving parking spaces

20th October 2015

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has identified a trend in consumers being targeted for investment opportunities in parking spaces at locations close to major airports.

A new commodity is being offered as an investment to members of the public. This new commodity is parking spaces. The method used by those selling the parking spaces is very similar to that used by businesses selling unregulated investments including diamonds, wine and carbon credits.

Common features include

  • Members of the public receiving unsolicited calls from forceful sales people offering an opportunity to invest in parking spaces or promoting it as a “sound pension investment”.
  • Verbal and written promises of a guaranteed and questionable high rate of return. A buy-back scheme is also offered but there is absolutely no guarantee of an onward sale (as previously experienced by consumers involved in time share properties, for example).

Members of the public should be aware of the following

  • Some consumers may receive an attractive initial dividend payout but there is no guarantee of long term future dividends and the investment may result in long term financial loss.  It is suspected that in some cases the initial dividends are paid out from the investments of subsequent investors, which is similar to a Ponzi scheme.
  • Post investment, the consumer may find it difficult to contact the investment company to discuss their investment or reap any financial returns.
  • The cold callers may be acting as estate agents and seeking to sell parking spaces owned by another. If the company offering the investment is not a registered estate agent then caution is advised.
  • Advice from consumer bodies is to never enter into an agreement as the result of a cold call or unsolicited mail
  • If you are thinking of making a financial investment, seek independent advice from someone who is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. You should also be aware that if you give money to an unauthorised firm, you will not be covered by the Financial Ombudsman Service or Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) if things go wrong. Check the FCA website for details of those advisors who are regulated.
  • If you feel that you have been mis-sold a financial product, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or by using the online reporting tool.

The NFIB are working in close partnership with the Financial Conduct Authority, HMRC, National Trading Standards, City of London Police and the National Crime Agency to clamp down on investment scams

You can now also sign up for free to Action Fraud Alert to receive direct, verified, accurate information about scams and fraud in your area by email, recorded voice and text message.