Expat financial scams hit the headlines again

Published:  21 Mar at 6 PM
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Over the past year, reports of financial scams perpetrated on expats have become big news in the online forums of many favourite expat havens.

Spain is the latest country to hit the headlines, with its expat forums buzzing with gossip about unprincipled financial advisors preying on new arrivals with offers which seem to good to be true. Expats are persuaded by smooth-taking salesmen in smart suits that high-risk or insurance-based funds and bonds will solve the problems caused by the falling sterling exchange rate.

Unfortunately, as one couple wh lost £65,000 found recently, what sounds too good to be true isn’t true, and can result in the loss of a lifetime’s savings. Get-rich schemes of this kind, however, aren’t limited to Spain or even to the sunnier EU destinations beloved by retirees.

Other recent reports involve the United Arab Emirates, Thailand and several African countries, with the modus operadi employed by the FAs similar across the board. The advent of the QROPS scheme, complicated for newbie investors to understand, may open even more lucrative floodgate for the scammers.

Bona fide firms across the expat world are advising investors, to check, check and double check anyone who approaches them with a deal. Qualifications and whether the FA is regulated and registered are the first stop on the trail, with the UK’s FSA lists a good place to start for Brits.

Scammers of this type often claim membership of regulatory bodies but, for example, an FA may be registered with the FSA but only for minor financial services not including the sale of investment products. In cases like this, walking swiftly away is the recommended action.
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