Warning over cold callers pushing phony bonds packaged as being from US giants Citigroup and JPMorgan
- Last week, readers say they were contacted by ‘JP Morgan Asset Management’
- This is a clone firm of the world’s sixth-largest bank
- It has been on the FCA’s blacklist since last November
- ‘Citigroup Asset Management’ offered plausible best buy one and two-year Isa deals, despite the bank not offering Isas in the UK
While Goldman Sachs’ Marcus account has topped the easy-access savings tables almost every day since it arrived in Britain, savers should beware of fraudsters purporting to be fellow American banks offering inflation-busting ‘fixed-rate bonds’.
This is Money was contacted by two readers last week, both of whom had been cold called by ‘JPMorgan Asset Management’, while one was also contacted by people purporting to be US bank Citigroup.
They were offered fixed-rate deals for one, two, three, four and five-year bonds, all of which were supposedly protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, with returns higher than the ones in our best buy tables.
Cold called: Two readers were cold called by fraudsters posing as Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase, two of America’s largest banks with presence in the UK
For example, a one-year fixed-rate ‘new client bond’ from ‘JPMorgan Asset Management’ reportedly paid 2.75 per cent, while the best rate in our tables is offered by Atom Bank at 1.65 per cent.
However, though that is a big gap, this time last year one-year fixed-rate deals paid as much as 2.15 per cent, meaning some of these rates may not seem so high as to instantly arouse suspicion.
The fixed-rate ‘Isas’ offered by ‘Citigroup Asset Management’, meanwhile, offer 1.99 per cent on a one-year deal and 2.3 per cent on a two-year, which to a standard saver may not seem too outlandish.
The best one-year fixed-rate cash Isa at the moment pays 1.41 per cent, and is offered by Oaknorth.
But crucially, unlike Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and JPMorgan do not offer currently savings deposits in Britain, while Marcus Bank itself only offers an easy-access deal, the link to which can be found in This is Money’s tables.
Fraudsters know that Citigroup and JPMorgan are big names that many would have heard of.
The fake prospectuses for inflation-busting savings rates from ‘Citigroup Asset Management’ and ‘JPMorgan Asset Management’. Neither Citi nor JPMorgan Chase currently offer UK savers deposits
This is Money contacted both banks and sent them these brochures, and both confirmed they were fraudulent.
While the brochures are fairly professional and use details like financial registration numbers, those numbers link to different entities in the Financial Conduct Authority’s register.
The one for JPMorgan Asset Management links to an entry in the register for the German subsidiary of the world’s sixth-largest bank, ‘JPMorgan AG’, while the Citigroup number returns an entry for ‘Citigroup Global Markets Ltd’.
Citigroup told This is Money it wasn’t sure if ‘Citigroup Asset Management’ even existed.
According to the register, the FCA is aware that the details of JPMorgan’s German business are being used by fraudsters and placed JPMorgan Asset Management on its blacklist last November.
But while this blacklist is worth checking, it is not comprehensive and a firm not being on there does not necessarily mean it is legitimate.
The reference number used in the promotional material for ‘JPMorgan Asset Management’ actually links to the bank’s German subsidiary, while the reference number used by the Citigroup fraudsters links to ‘Citigroup Global Markets Ltd’
This is Money has previously reported on fraudsters using the name of JPMorgan to try and sell high interest rate bonds, and fraudsters frequently impersonate the bank and cold call savers who may not know better.
An extra level of confusion may also come from the fact that JPMorgan is rumoured to be launching a UK challenger bank which will offer savings rates in the near future.
Other banks we have previously been reported on being spoofed by scammers include Dutch giant ABN Amro, and Essex-based challenger savings bank Shawbrook.
The highest paying one-year fixed-rate savings accounts and Isas currently available. The material sent out by those posing as Citigroup and JPMorgan offer much higher rates
These kind of scams are likely to become more common in the run up to the April tax deadline, as fraudsters target savers looking to use up their tax-free Isa allowance by depositing money in accounts paying the best rates.
While there is no hard and fast rule to determine whether something is a scam, the chances are legitimate banks will not call you out of the blue to try and sell you savings deals.
One possible option is to try and find the customer service number of the real bank that may be being impersonated and give them a call to double check.
And if the best one-year deal is paying 1.65 per cent, something paying more than a whole percentage point more than that is likely too good to be true.