I’ve been writing about boiler rooms and investment scams for the last four years. I started in May 2012 with a post about a warning from the Financial Services Authority about the dangers of buying carbon credits as investments.
I’ve now written more than 150 posts about boiler room operations pushing so-called “investments”. The boiler rooms offer a range of commodities, including: carbon credits, biofuels, logging operations, REDD, timber plantations, pyramid schemes, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) schemes, VAT fraud, and bamboo plantations.
Of course, I’m only scratching the surface. There are hundreds of these scams, many based in the City of London. They offer “investments” in lots of other commodities, such as diamonds, rare earth metals, gold, silver, fine wines, storage pods, car parking, land banking, shares, binary options trading, hotels, and property overseas.
All too often, people are duped into handing over money following a phone call out of the blue. Boiler rooms are offices where telephone sales staff use high pressure sales tactics to persuade people to invest in high risk or worthless commodities.
The boiler room industry got a boost in April 2015, when the Conservative government introduced “pension freedom” reforms, allowing people over 55 to access as much of their pension pot as they want to. This money quickly became a target for boiler room scam artists. After one year, 11 million people had been cold called about their pension.
Make cold calling illegal
In September 2016, Darren Cooke of Red Circle Financial Planning launched a parliamentary petition calling for a ban on all cold-calling related to pensions or investments. If you are in the UK, please sign this petition:
So far, more than 7,000 people have signed. If the petition reaches 10,000 signatures before 21 March 2017, the government will have to respond. And if 100,000 people sign on, the petition “will be considered for debate in Parliament”.
Former pensions minister Baroness Ros Altmann supports the petition. She told FT Advisor that making cold-calling illegal would send a strong signal that people should “Just Hang Up” if someone cold calls them.
“British people tend not to want to be rude to some nice sounding person who calls them, even if they don’t know who on earth they are, we just like to be polite. But it is important for people to know that no reputable firm will cold call you about your pension.”
Cooke told FT Adviser that reaching 10,000 signatures was the first objective. “If we can get to 100,000, ecstasy. That would be amazing,” he said.
“But if all I do is raise a debate and prevent one person from being scammed out of their life’s savings, I’m happy.”
So, when you’ve signed the petition, please post it on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest and any other social media you can think of. Thanks.