Investment Fraud - Don’t become a Victim
It has become a worrying fact that more and more people are become victims to fraud - 39% of all reported crime is fraud related. Investment Fraud is one subcategory that has become more prevalent lately. The BBC recently ran a report under the headline ‘Fraudsters stole everything, even my house’. The victim of the fraud, Graeme Stagg, was a widowed 77 year old having served 22 years in the RAF and retiring as a squadron leader. His estate was initially worth around £800,000 including his property.
During the pandemic, he was concerned about the low interest rates and wanted to make his money work for him. He came across a company called NCapital online in August 2021. A current search of the company now brings up nothing save red flag warnings about scams.
Graeme initially invested £50 thinking this was a sensible initial investment. He was informed that the more he invested; the greater the returns. The next day he invested £10,000. After a week of grooming, he had invested in excess of £100,000.
The scam then went to the next level. Graeme spent a lot of time speaking with an individual known as Geoff (known in the scamming world as a retention agent) and was led to believe that there was a problem with NCapital. In fact the whole scheme was a con. Desperate to retrieve his money, Graeme handed over more - throwing good after bad. Graeme was now in debt. The next step was to push Graeme to release funds out of his family home using equity release. Hundreds of thousands of pounds were paid out to the criminal gang and the debt was secured against Graeme’s property.
Finally, the scammers convinced Graeme that one final investment would return all of his assets. A quick-sale company would sell the property and Geoff would buy it back for Graeme, at the same time returning all of his investments. The sale and transfer was to occur on 8th February 2022. Instead of receiving the funds, Graeme received a call from Geoff’s PA explaining he had been in a car crash. Graeme realised he had been a victim of investment fraud. He had lost nearly all of his £800,000. Police are investigating but it is unlikely anyone will be convicted.
Fraud can happen to anyone. Graeme was and remains a pillar of the community - even opening the new branch of a bank in his local town. His reason for going public with his story is to explain how easy it is to be pulled into the scam and how dangerous it is. One concerning matter is Graeme did not have an independent solicitor acting for him in his sale. The quick-sale company who were buying the property from him had no reason to act in his best interests. They have paused the sale during the police investigation but offered no other solution.
Lindsay Taylor is a Senior Associate Solicitor based at our Hythe Office. For your conveyancing and private client needs you can contact CGM Solicitors on 02380 842765 for an appointment.