Elderly investors have been warned to avoid a scam involving carbon credits, after over 1,500 people were duped out of a total of £24m.
The fraudulent companies offered "worthless" carbon credits - or Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) - and used high-pressure sales techniques on customers mostly ranging between 50 and 85-years-old, according to the Insolvency Service.
The market in trading carbon credits is not accessible to small investors, and the government's Insolvency Service has closed down 19 companies involved.
The scammers played on people’s keenness to ‘do their bit’ to save the environment while making an investment at the same time. Investors were promised huge returns by selling these credits to corporate giants such as Marks and Spencer and British Airways
£1.2 billion is lost to investment scams
Every year, £1.2 billion is lost to investment scams in the UK, with share sales, wine investments, land banking and carbon credits commonly used by fraudsters to target potential investors. Anyone can become a victim of investment fraud, but you can reduce your risk if you follow our advice.
The Consumer Minister, Jo Swinson, said: "This is a particularly disgraceful scam as it not only preyed on older people trying to maximise their savings, but also targeted their sincere desire to make ethical investments. Instead, investors have been left out of pocket with shares that are either worthless or do not exist."
For further information please visit the Insolvency Service website.
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To report a fraud and receive a police crime reference number, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use our online fraud reporting tool.