what is “clone firm”? How work?

what is “clone firm”?

Fraudsters often use details such as the name and address of authorised firms and individuals, and a ‘firm registration number’ (FRN) to suggest they are genuine.

This is what we call a ‘clone firm’.

How clone firms work

Almost all firms and individuals carrying out financial services activities in the UK have to be authorised or registered by FCA.

Some fraudsters claim to represent authorised firms – or even try to change firms’ contact details on the Financial Services Register – to appear genuine.

The scammers may give you their own phone number and other contact details.

They may copy the website of an authorised firm, making subtle changes such as to the phone number.

They may point you to the genuine firm’s website, but use different details to correspond with you.

They may claim to be from overseas firms that appear on the FS Register, as these firms don’t always have their full contact and website details listed.

They may claim that a firm’s contact details on the FS Register are out of date. This is unlikely, as we update the FS Register every evening.

Scammers may also give you the details of individuals listed on the FS Register. That is why it’s important to check the firm’s record, to see what regulated activities they are permitted to do. If you want to contact the individual, you should contact the firm first.

We have even seen fake versions of the FCA website and the FS Register that include the fraudsters’ contact details rather than those of the genuine, authorised firm.

how to protect  yourself

We strongly advise you to only deal with financial firms that are authorised by us, and check the Financial Services (FS) Register to ensure they are. It has information on firms and individuals that are, or have been, regulated by FCA.You can also check a broker’s credibility score on several independent reviewers’ websites like BrokersView.