Fraudsters are using the details of firms authorised by the FCA to try to convince people that they work for a genuine, authorised company.
That's the warning from the body along with an alert for people to be on the lookout for clone firms after a firm had its details used on an attempted fraud.
Chichester-based AMAC Mortgages Ltd, which is an authorised company, was cloned by fraudsters and contacted the regulator to inform them.
Cloned firms set out to use the details of authentic businesses to try to convince people they work for a company. And while the fraudster does not work for an authorised or regulated business the object is to try to sell services or products under its names.
The details of AMAC Mortgages were altered by the fraudsters and the name "AMAC Mortgages & Loan Ltd" used instead. The authentic firm’s reference number is 302881 and it operates from the city in West Sussex. The genuine AMAC Mortgages firm remains in no way implicated in this issue and remains open for business.
The warning says that scammers set out to use the same post code and similar email addresses as the company to contact consumers.
The regulator says that the public should be wary of any company which contacts them out of nowhere, adding that people should never give out their personal or financial details to anyone who they do not know.
The alert comes after a similar situation brought to the attention of the public from the FCA earlier this year. In January it issued a warning to consumers not to deal with a firm using the Rothschild brand to scam people.
Fraudsters were using the name Rothschild Private Wealth, along with the genuine Rothchild’s address, to create a so-called ‘clone firm’ to perpetrate scams, the FCA says in a note published on its website over Christmas.
Rothschild Private Wealth has a different telephone number, however, has no website listed on the FCA’s note and no FCA reference number.
The FCA said then: “This firm is not authorised or registered by us but has been targeting people in the UK, claiming to be an authorised firm.
“This is what we call a ‘clone firm’; and fraudsters usually use this tactic when contacting people out of the blue, so you should be especially wary if you have been cold called.”
The firms became the latest in a line of scammers masquerading as popular brands, which have also included BlackRock and Raymond James in the past.
In 2012, then regulator the FSA released data showing it received nearly three times as many reports about cloned firms in 2011 compared with the previous year.
In 2011, the FSA got 449 reports about cloned companies compared with 161 in 2010.
You can check the Financial Services Register to find out whether a business is authorised by the FCA. Consumers with concerns about clone firms can also call the consumer helpline on 0800 111 6768.
Businesses which think they may have been cloned can contact the firm helpline on 0300 500 0597.