L'amour est dans l'air

Love is in the air with Valentines upon us but not for those taken in by fraudsters exploiting the execrable rates of interest on offer from deposit accounts to target the elderly, particularly those living alone.

Boiler room scams have been with us for a very long time but now it seems that this month's Sinners are those that present rare gems as a safe yet profitable investment medium in the wake of the slump in the price of gold. The problem is that the gems are usually massively overpriced and may not even exist. The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau recorded around 250 reports of diamond fraud last year, some involving sufferers from dementia who had been pressured into handing over significant sums of money.

Diamonds are notoriously hard to value and most trading takes place privately. Not only that, but even legitimate diamond brokers are not subject to any form of regulation, and are not required to register with the Financial Conduct Authority.

Last year the Insolvency Service wound down one rogue broker, Jubilee Diamonds Ltd, after learning that they were vastly over inflating prices, encouraging staff to use false names and paying up to 25% of sale income as commission.

For those happy to take a little controlled risk, Saintly multi-asset funds that have risk constraints placed upon them may be a good fit. Tailored to suit an individual's risk profile, fund managers expertly ensure diversification over many asset classes and often look to blend different investment strategies together to produce a steady return.Our advice is simple. If you don't want to take risks with your money then don't look any further than the bank or building society.

A good example would be Momentum's Factor Series funds, these offer a target return of inflation plus 3%, 4% or 5%. Rather than looking for the best returns possible, perhaps a more measured approach should be taken and goals set in this manner.

If you do feel happy to be a little more speculative then make sure that whatever you chose to invest in is authorised by a UK based regulatory body and subject to a formal compensation scheme.

Perhaps most importantly, seek professional advice, even if it's a quick second opinion, rather that taking a cold calling firm at face value.

The sad fact is that the fraudsters are finding increasingly sophisticated ways to part the unwary from their hard earned money and more and more people are falling for them. While advice costs money, seeking it from a regulated adviser is surely more cost effective than toying with a potential conman?

Robin Sainty APFS M.A. (Cantab)