Schroders raises alarm following fresh wave of attacks by fraudsters

Schroders last week became the latest fund management group to alert investors to counterfeit portfolios trading under the fund group’s name.

Schroders says investors were contacted by phone and email about a fake fund called “Schroder Investment Limited Guaranteed Bullion and Commodities”.

A statement says: “This is not a fund of Schroder Investment Limited, Schroder Investment Management Limited or any subsidiary of Schroders plc. Any funds invested with regard to this offer will not be invested with Schroders.” (article continues below)

The group urged any investors who have been approached to contact the company or the City of London fraud squad.

Last month Octopus Investments warned its venture capital trust clients that a third party was misusing its name and said shareholders were contacted as part of a scam. The company says the third party tried to acquire clients’ shares or sell them shares in companies that have little or no value and may even be fictitious.

Meanwhile, Royal London Asset Management (RLAM) and Rathbones have also been the victims of scams.

Rathbones contacted the police last month after it became aware that fraudsters claiming to be from the group were writing letters to investors requesting funds for share purchases.

In September 2009 RLAM warned investors about a firm called Royal London Investment Group, which claimed to have an affiliation with RLAM. This was a link it denied and the Financial Services Authority (FSA) posted an alert warning investors not to deal with unauthorised firms such as Royal London Investment Group.

The FSA has this year warned of a rise in frauds, in which scammers cold-call investors offering worthless or fake shares. However, the Schroders warning suggests they are branching into fund sales.

In May, the FSA warned that a list of more than 38,000 investors’ contact details was being used by fraudsters.

Ben Lundie, the head of Vantage development at Hargreaves Lansdown, who is constantly approached regarding new funds, says his first check is to make sure a fund is FSA regulated.

“We also submit a full questionnaire to the fund management group wanting to sell us a fund, asking them to provide [information on] Sedol numbers, the fund’s trustee, where it is domiciled, its legal structure and whether it has UK distributor status.”