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Fraudsters posing as real banks - victims of clone firm scam

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We have reported on a number of authorised push payment (APP) scams, including requests for money from online adverts, romantic partners or supposed solicitors. This scam involves scammers pretending to be a real bank.

Mizuho Bank

There have been a number of reported fraud cases involving Mizuho Bank. The common theme is that individuals pose as representatives of the bank, get in contact with prospective customers, gain their trust, get access to their personal information and, unfortunately, their money.

The scammers do this by creating a website that looks like the real thing, using the same logos, content and even email style as the bank. Mixed in will be the contact details of the scammer, but it all looks genuine, designed to trick unsuspecting customers. The parent company might still be called ‘Mizuho International’ but the website or email address is subtly different. Subsequent email or telephone communications then persuade customers to invest in bonds or shares that might not even exist.

If you have researched investments online and entered your details on a website, can you be sure that your information is in good hands? Clone firm fraud is where scammers pretend to be a real firm, such as a bank. They may use genuine names, addresses and firm registration numbers, associated with the real company, on their website, to make it appear real.

Clone firms may offer you:

  • Investments in cryptocurrency, shares or bonds;
  • Help with getting a loan;
  • Help with recovering funds from previous investments.

It is important to double-check phone numbers and personal contact details, such as email addresses, as these may not be genuine and divert you directly to the scammers. Watch out for firms that operate overseas or claim their registered details are ‘out of date’. And check whether the firm even offers services in the UK. Also check review websites to see if there are complaints about scamming activity associated with the company or bank.

One of the best ways to check if you are dealing with a clone firm or bank is to see if they are registered with City watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) on the Financial Services Register and if so, whether the details match up with their records.

Given the increase in clone firms and banks, the FCA has provided useful guidance on ways you can protect yourself.

In the words of the FCA: “Remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

In another scam, people applying for jobs at Mizuho Bank have been diverted from the business networking site LinkedIn to a fake recruitment website and unwittingly submitted their personal information. This information could be used fraudulently, for example, to apply for loans or credit.

Mizuho point out that any job vacancy would also be advertised on their company website and that applicants could contact them directly to verify that a vacancy is genuine.
Check and double-check!

The FCA has a website dedicated to scams in the UK – ScamSmart – where you can learn more about reporting fraud. The National Fraud and Cyber Crime Reporting Centre website Action Fraud also has very useful information on what practical steps you can take if you suspect scam activity and how to report this to the police.

Commenting on clone banks, Head of Professional Negligence at TLW, Sarah Spruce, said:

“We have been instructed by victims of the Mizuho scam, some having lost hundreds of thousands of pounds. Action Fraud say it’s a new but common scam. We would urge anyone who has lost money in this way, either through the Mizuho scam or similar clone firm scams, to get in touch. We can help you through the process of making a claim for compensation.”

TLW Solicitors has a specialist Fraud and Scam team to help recover compensation for victims on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis. The team understands the claims process, the technical information that needs to be gathered and the time limits that apply.

If you, a friend or a loved one has been conned into making payments to a clone firm or bank, then please get in touch with our specialist team for a confidential, no-obligation discussion. You can call us on 0800 169 5925, complete the callback enquiry form or email info@tlwsolicitors.co.uk.

Time limits can apply and so anyone wishing to bring a claim should do so without delay.

Meet Our Team

Meet Sarah, who heads up our experienced Fraud and Scam Claims team.

Sarah and her colleagues are on hand to help with your claim.

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