Unsolicited calls and correspondence to SSE shareholders
It has been brought to our attention that some of our shareholders have received unsolicited telephone calls or correspondence concerning investment matters from individuals or organisations that may be claiming or implying that they have some connection with SSE plc. We advise that these individuals or organisations are not connected with SSE plc in any way, and have no authority either to claim or imply that they are.
These are typically overseas based ‘brokers’ who target UK shareholders offering to sell them what often turns out to be worthless or high risk shares in UK or overseas investments. Shareholders are advised to be very wary of any unsolicited advice, offers to buy shares at a discount or offers of free reports into the Company. These approaches are operated out of what is more commonly known as a ‘boiler room’.
You may also be approached by brokers offering to purchase your shares for an upfront payment in the form of a broker fee, tax payment or de-restriction fee. This is a common secondary scam operated by boiler rooms. They have probably obtained shareholders’ details from our register of shareholders or other publicly available documents on file at Companies House. Further information regarding boiler room fraud is set out below. Should you receive an unsolicited telephone call or document such as those referred to above, we strongly suggest that you consult your own independent financial advisor before taking any action.
If you do receive an unsolicited call, please try and obtain the caller’s name, telephone number and address and report the matter to the Financial Conduct Authority (“the FCA”) Consumer Helpline on 0800 111 6768. Alternatively, complete the FCA’s Share Fraud Reporting Form at www.fca.org.uk/scams If you have already paid money to share fraudsters you should contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
The FCA has released a Beware of Share Fraud Leaflet providing guidance on what to do if you receive an unsolicited, suspicious call about investing in shares.
What is a ‘Boiler Room’?
Any individual or organisation offering to sell you shares or buy your shares without authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority (“the FCA”) may be committing a criminal offence. These individuals or organisations are commonly known as boiler rooms and they target people who currently hold shares or have held shares in the past.
They usually operate by convincing people that they have an amazing ‘investment opportunity’, but end up selling them worthless or non existent shares. They usually claim to be a UK company operating from a UK address with a UK phone number. However, most boiler rooms are based overseas, have bogus UK addresses and phone lines that are routed abroad. Anyone dealing with these individuals or organisations could lose a lot of money. For further information, please visit the consumer pages of the FCA website and The City of London Police Operation Archway.
How to protect yourself
Make sure that you only ever deal with companies authorised by the FCA. You can do this by checking the FCA’s register of authorised firms.
Check the FCA’s list of unauthorised overseas companies that have targeted people in the UK. If they are not on the list, do not assume that they are legitimate.
Under normal circumstances, it is illegal for unauthorised firms to cold call ordinary consumers in relation to investment products such as shares. Although authorised firms are allowed to make cold calls, restrictions apply and detailed rules dictate when and how such calls can be made. So, if you receive an unexpected telephone call, letter or email from a firm of which you are not a customer, treat it with extreme caution.
Some boiler rooms use the name of legitimate FCA-authorised firms. Always double check that the caller is from a company they say they are by asking for their name and calling back using the telephone number listed for the firm on the FCA’s register.
Should you wish to talk to us about this matter, please contact SSE plc’s Registrar – Link Market Services on 0345 143 4005.