FSA hit squad probes for dodgy financial sites

Trying to mislead consumers?

The FSA is to probe more than 50 Web sites targeting UK users following an undercover "surf day" into Internet scams.

A top surveillance squad of 31 FSA staff spent a day browsing more than 600 sites for signs of dodgy financial market activity. The search turned up 53 sites that warranted "further investigation", with the FSA vowing it would "take action where necessary to put a stop to unauthorised activity".

The surf day was an worldwide event co-ordinated by the International Organisation of Securities Commissions on 28 March. The FSA was one of 21 regulatory groups from 18 countries taking part.

The unlucky sites earmarked for further investigation included those which appeared to offer unauthorised investment advice or investment deals, or which advertised investment products in breach of the law, the FSA said.

"We and our colleagues have identified a number of sites that might be trying to mislead consumers," said Dan Waters, FSA director of enforcement.

But Waters urged consumers to check with the FSA that firms were authorised to do financial services business before parting with their hard-earned cash.

"The Internet brings many benefits, including access to markets and information, but consumers must remember: if it looks too good to be true, it probably is," he said.

For the past few months the FSA has been warning investors to be wary of trying to make a quick buck out of the Internet. ®

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