Shareholder Warnings

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Shareholders are advised to be very wary of any unsolicited advice or offers, whether over the telephone, through the mail or by email.

Scams are increasingly sophisticated. Fraudsters can be articulate and financially knowledgeable, with credible websites, testimonials and materials that are hard to distinguish from the real thing.

Fraudsters will often use persuasive, high-pressure tactics to lure investors into a scam to invest quickly. Investment scams will often imply a link to the Company and are designed to look like genuine investments. Remember – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

A summary of the steps you can take to try and avoid share fraud and what to do if you are the victim of a scam is provided below. Further information on how to avoid investment scams and how to report a scam is provided on the ScamSmart section of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) website.

Spot the warning signs

Have you been:

  • contacted out of the blue;
  • offered a bonus or discount if you invest;
  • promised tempting returns that sound too good to be true;
  • told that the investment is safe;
  • told that the offer is only being made to you or not to tell anyone else about the opportunity;
  • or told the offer is only available for a limited time?
  • If so, it is possible that you have been contacted by fraudsters.

Avoiding share fraud - what to do if you are contacted

If you receive any unsolicited communication, you should take the following steps.

1. Reject cold calls and other unexpected offers. Scammers usually cold call, but contact can also come by email, post, word of mouth or at a seminar. If you’ve been offered an investment out of the blue, the chances are it’s a high-risk investment or a scam.

2. Record the details of the person and organization that contact you. Make sure you get the correct name of the person and organisation and make a record of any other information they give you, e.g. telephone number or address.

3. Check whether the firm is FCA authorized. Almost all financial services firms must be authorised by the FCA – if they’re not, it’s probably a scam. Check the FCA’s Financial Services Register (“the Register”) to see whether a firm or individual is authorised or registered with the FCA. Remember - you should always access the Register from the FCA’s website, rather than through links in emails or on the website of a firm offering you an investment. You should use the Register to check if the firm’s ‘firm reference number’ (FRN) and contact details are the same as those on the Register. If there are no contact details on the Register or if the firm claims they’re out of date, you should call the FCA’s Consumer Helpline on 0800 111 6768. If you’re dealing with an overseas firm, you should check with the regulator in that country and also check the scam warnings from foreign regulators. If you use an unauthorised firm, you won’t have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service or Financial Services Compensation Scheme if things go wrong – and you’re unlikely to get your money back.

4. Check the FCA warning list. Use the FCA Warning List to check the risks of a potential investment – you can also search to see if the firm is known to be operating without the FCA’s authorisation.

5. Check that it is not a “clone firm”. A common scam is to pretend to be a genuine firm (called a “clone firm”). Always use the contact details on the Register, not the details the firm gives you. You should also check the firm’s details with directory enquiries or Companies House to make sure they are the same.

6. Get impartial advice before investing.  Don’t use an adviser from the firm that contacted you.

7. If you’re at all suspicious, report the contact. You can report the firm or scam to the FCA by contacting the FCA’s Consumer Helpline on 0800 111 6768 or using the reporting form. Please also inform Computershare, our transfer agent and registrar, on +44 (0)370 703 6363, inside US and Canada: +1 866 742 1064 or outside US and Canada +1 781 575 3023. They are not able to investigate such incidents but will record the details and pass them on to Ferguson plc and liaise with the FCA on your behalf.

What to do if you are the victim of a scam

If you’ve lost money in a scam, contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.