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Fraudsters put high net worths top of their hitlists

73% with assets of £3m or more admitted they had been victim to a scam

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Cybercrime is a rising concern among British high net worth individuals (HNWIs), according to research from financial planning firm Saltus.

The company surveyed over 1,000 people in the UK with investable assets over £250,000 and an average net worth of £1.5m ($1.88m, €1.76m).

It found cybercrime is a much bigger concern among HNWIs than it was just six months ago. When ranking the biggest threats to their wealth, cyber threats were the fourth biggest worry for HNWIs – only topped by inflation, covid-19 and exchange rates.

Six months ago, Covid-19 was viewed by HNWIs as the main threat to their wealth, followed by inflation, return on investments, Brexit, and climate change.

Scammed

The rise of cybercrime fears comes in tandem with findings that 53% of HNWIs said they have been victim of a scam – up from 49% just six months ago.

Of those who had been a victim of a financial scam, 36% said they lost their money – £8,952 on average. Some 21% admitted to losing more than £10,000 and nearly one-in-25 said they lost more than £25,000.

The research found that those most likely to be targeted and lose money were the self-employed, where 74% said they had fallen victim to financial crime compared to 47% of employed respondents.

Some 41% of self-employed respondents who had been targeted said they lost their money, with losses averaging £9,272.

The data also revealed that the higher the net worth, the more likely the respondent was to say that they had been targeted by scammers.

Among those with assets of between £250,000 and £500,000, 36% admitted they had been a victim, but for those with assets of £3m or more this rises sharply to 73%.

Furthermore, those with the most, lost the most – victims with a net worth of more than £3m lost £12,534 on average – almost £5,000 more than those with a net worth of less than £500,000 who had been scammed.

‘Very real danger to all’

Mike Stimpson, partner at Saltus, said: “We all know that professional advice can help you achieve your financial goals, but one of the lesser known – but hugely important – benefits of having a financial adviser is that they can also help protect you from falling victim to financial crime.

“With our research showing that 36% of HNWIs had lost money to a scam, this is no longer an issue for a small minority but a very real danger to all.

“Financial advisers know markets, they know when something is too good to be true and they have clients’ best interests at heart. Ultimately, this means they are a client’s best line of defence when it comes to securing their finances from scammers.”

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