Uncovered data reveals top world locations for financial scams

Published:  24 Aug at 6 PM
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As the UK’s Financial Conduct Agency continues to warn retirees of pension transfer frauds, recently uncovered data reveals the worst world-wide locations for expat financial scams.

The data shows UK retiree pension savers are now at even more risk of being scammed out of their savings by unscrupulous, often illegally working financial advised lurking in favourite expat destinations. Global scams are now big business for fraudsters, egged on by pension liberation and even by Brexit’s predicted financial uncertainties.

One well-known hotspot for scams of all kinds aimed at expats is Spain's pensioner community. Regarded as easy prey for cold-callers and unregistered IFAs, local retirees are often easily persuaded that transferring their pension savings overseas is the answer as regards high returns. Over two million pounds per year are estimated to be lost to this type of fraud. Another, more recent development is cold-calling by fake stockbrokers selling worthless investments ‘guaranteed’ to make money.

Hong Kong expats are being plagued by cold callers offering free pension reviews ever since pension freedoms took effect in the UK. The crooks suggest transferring pension savings to Hong Kon will double savers’ money in less than 10 years. UK residents with no thought of retiring to the former colony are also being targeted.

Brazil is a base for fraudsters offering high-interest investments in teak tree plantations in the Amazon basin, a so-called ‘alternative investment’ which turns out to be worthless, as have fine wines, diamonds and carbon credits, to name but a few. Cybercrime is the latest scam in Russia, with fraudsters using expat concerns over the effects of Brexit to push fake money-making schemes.

Expats in Southeast Asia have always been vulnerable to unregistered, illegally working IFAs’ fast-talking, worthless promises, with those in Thailand especially at risk. Even although the giving of financial advice is prohibited for foreigners, there have been countless instances of cold-calling and fraudulent miss-selling of high-risk financial products by scammers.

Several years ago, the LMIM Ponzi scheme folded, taking with it millions of pounds of expat savings via illegal IFAs cosily ensconced in expat clubs in Pattaya, Chiang Mai, Bangkok and other retiree hubs as well as in other Asain countries.
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