"Investment scams are becoming more and more sophisticated and fraudsters are using fake credentials to make themselves look legitimate. "
The FCA has issued a new warning on investment scams as data from Action Fraud reveals over £197 million of reported losses in 2018.
The figures show that victims were scammed out of over £29,000 on average last year, with FCA call centre data showing that the most commonly reported scams involved investments in shares and bonds, forex and cryptocurrencies.
Together they accounted for 85% of all suspected investment scams reported in 2018.
The FCA says the profile of investment scams is changing as more and more people are being targeted online, moving away from the traditional cold call.
Its data shows that fraudsters are now contacting people through emails, professional looking websites and social media channels, such as Facebook and Instagram.
Last year 54% of those who checked the FCA Warning List had been contacted by potential fraudsters via online sources, up from 45% in 2017.
Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA, said: "The first quarter of the year is a common time for people to make their financial plans for the year, including investments.
"Investment scams are becoming more and more sophisticated and fraudsters are using fake credentials to make themselves look legitimate. The FCA is working harder than ever to help protect the public against this threat. Last year we published over 360 warnings about potentially fraudulent firms. And we want to spread the message so we can all better protect ourselves from investment scams."
Director of Action Fraud, Pauline Smith, commented: "These statistics show that investment fraud is a major threat, with fraudsters doing everything they can to manipulate potential victims into making investments. Victims are often coerced or persuaded into parting with significant amounts of money and this can have a devastating impact on their wellbeing and finances."