How much investment fraud is there each year in Britain? It isn’t a simple question. Trying to come up with a number can seem a bit like attempting to gauge the size of an iceberg from the small part that pokes up above the waves.

Sound tricky? Well that probably understates it. Icebergs do at least obey nature’s laws, with roughly nine-tenths routinely lying beneath the surface.

With investment scams there’s no fixed relationship. The submerged part can be enormous. Let’s take, for example, frauds involving pension schemes. While police figures for reported scams in 2018 amounted to 180 cases worth just £15m, industry guesstimates of their true value in a single year run at £4bn — 267 times as much — according to a report from the Police Foundation, a think-tank.

The gap reflects the fact that many people may not yet know they have been swindled or are too ashamed to report it. 

What most can agree is that the number of…

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