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FSA to pay £270,000 to fraud victims

CITY regulator the Financial Services Authority is set to hand back £270,000 to victims of a “boiler room” share fraud scam, as part of an investigation into how cold calls from overseas persuaded citizens to invest in worthless shares.

The FSA, whose investigation centres on two individuals and seven businesses suspected of involvement, said yesterday it believed this was the full amount invested by victims.

In a type of scam the FSA has estimated could cost £300m per year, members of the public were telephoned by people saying they worked for brokers Rothman Capital, Bishop Capital, Bernam Shore and Investor Relations Corp and encouraged to buy stock in a firm called Eduvest.

Having been promised a significant return, around 32 people paid cash into a UK bank account number.

Margaret Cole, the FSA’s director of enforcement, said it was rare for victims who deal with unauthorised firms to recover cash “as the money usually disappears without a trace”.

The regulator and police raided three premises, arrested one person, served injunctions, froze assets and restrained unauthorised activities last November, though noone has yet been charged. The case continues.