According to its recent figures, Action Fraud – the national reporting centre for fraud and internet crime – estimates that, each year in the UK, £1.2bn is lost to Investment Fraud. Therefore, it is important to stay vigilant and aware of Investment Fraud, and what to do if you are accused of committing this crime. . The principle enforcement agencies are increasingly targeting complaints by investors who have been targeted by high yield schemes.
UK investment law is notoriously complex and ambiguity exists around when it is breached. Keith J Tuck is one of Scotland’s premier defence lawyers, and has developed a highly successful practice of defending clients facing allegations of investment fraud. If you need to entrust your case to a lawyer that understands what is at stake, contact Keith J Tuck today.
What is investment fraud?
Investment Fraud is any scheme or deception relating to investments that affect a person or company. As traditional investments become less popular due to lower returns, high yield investments have become more attractive to fraudsters. It is commonly the case that individuals will convince a person to invest in a scheme, shares or commodities, which either don’t exist, or aren’t worth the money paid for them. These scams are common and are usually perpetrated through aggressive sales tactics.
In Scotland, criminal fraud is mainly dealt with under the common law. There are also a wide range of statutory offences which involve an element of fraud and are closely related to the common law criminal fraud. The crime of "uttering" occurs when someone tenders as genuine a forged document to the prejudice of another person. Most cases of uttering have a practical result and can be treated as cases of common law criminal fraud. Uttering and fraud are often interchangeable offences, although prosecutors tend to proceed with an uttering charge if a forged document is used.
Investment Frauds may arise when a new company or an exciting opportunity is launched that promises a higher than average market return, only for investors to later discover the operation is not what they expected. There are many different schemes that attempt to part the unwary from their money. These include:
- Ponzi and Pyramid Schemes
- Land Banking Schemes
- Carbon Credit Fraud
- Share Sale Fraud (Boiler Room Fraud)
The Investigation of Investment Fraud
These will normally include investigations by the Serious Organised Crime Agency, HM Revenue and Customs, Serious Fraud Office, Financial Services Authority, as well as the Police and other bodies.
The internet has facilitated the rise of investment based crime which is acknowledged as a major international issue. The UK government agrees and views cybercrime and cold calling as a important policy priority and has increased funding for the investigation and prosecution of such offences.
Frauds committed in Scotland are usually investigated by Police Scotland, which has regional specialist units within Specialist Crime Division to deal with complex economic crime cases. COPFS is the main prosecuting authority in Scotland. Most fraud prosecution are dealt with by the local Procurator Fiscal. They may choose to pass the matter to the Crown Office’s Economic Crime Unit if they consider the crime serious enough.
It is also important to note that the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has jurisdiction to prosecute any UK or overseas company for offences under the Bribery Act.
Once a decision has been made on whether there is sufficient evidence to establish that a crime has taken place, an individual will either be served with:
- A summary complaint for less serious crimes which is heard by a sheriff sitting without a jury
- An indictment for more serious crimes in either the Sheriff Court with a jury or the High Court.
What are the Consequences of Investment Fraud?
Offences successfully prosecuted under common law can attract equally heavy penalties, including up to life imprisonment or unlimited fine or both if convicted on indictment. A summary conviction can lead to 12 months’ imprisonment, a prescribed fine or both.
Following conviction, the prosecutor can use its power given to it under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to confiscate a fixed sum of money relating to the benefit obtained from their general criminal conduct in a criminal lifestyle case, and from their particular criminal conduct otherwise. Firms regulated by the FCA may face financial penalties and sanctions (including removal of authorisation) under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 for failing to prevent financial crime and/or breaching the FCA's Principles for Business.
Contact Our Investment Fraud Solicitors in Glasgow, Scotland
At Keith J Tuck we routinely work with clients in cases of alleged investment fraud, managing their engagement with the authorities and guarding their interests carefully. If you want to work with a legal team that will act quickly to respond to allegations of wrong doing in a way that protects your interests, contact us today on 01413362020 or by completing our online enquiry form.