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Richer people more likely to fall prey to fraudsters

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The richer you are the more likely you are to fall victim to financial scams.

That is the conclusion of a study which finds that people with assets of more than £2m are almost twice as likely to be defrauded as those with assets under £500,000.

Nearly half of people with assets of £250,000 and more said they had been scammed, in the poll carried out by Saltus, the wealth advisory company, which surveyed more than 1,000 individuals in the UK.

The figure rises from 31 per cent for those with assets between £250,000 and £500,000 to 53 per cent for people with assets in the £1m-£2m range. It goes even higher, to 66 per cent for those with £2m-£3m before falling slightly to 65 per cent for the £3m-plus group, according to the study.

The peak age for falling prey to scammers is 35-44, with 57 per cent of people in this cohort saying that they had been defrauded, By comparison, just 18 per cent of those aged 65 and over said they had been scammed and only 31 per cent in the 55-64 age bracket.

This finding contrasts with the common view that older people, often unfamiliar with the online world, are particularly vulnerable to internet fraudsters. The figures for other cohorts were 48 per cent for under-25s, 51 per cent for 25-34-year-olds, and 54 per cent for the 45-54 age group.

“The adoption of technology has opened up a whole new set of opportunities for financial crime, and it seems the greater your net worth, the more likely you are to become a target,” says the report.

The 35-44 age group may be especially vulnerable because people in well-paid jobs have accumulated substantial savings during the pandemic, without yet having decided how to allocate their wealth between different investments or plan their pension arrangements.

Mike Stimpson, partner at Saltus, said: “While this study focuses on reported crime and so we cannot definitively conclude that this age group is actively targeted by criminals, logic suggests that those starting to think about what they might do when they can access their pension (at age 55) could be more at risk as fraudsters see an opportunity to scam people out of their pension pot.” 

Stimpson added: “As a general rule, it is best to ignore — or ideally, report — any unsolicited contact as a genuine financial adviser would not cold call about a specific investment opportunity. Any unconventional commission arrangements should also raise a red flag.”



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