Santander said it had the utmost sympathy for you and for anyone who fell victim to such scams. It pointed out, as do I, that anyone looking to invest should make thorough and independent checks of companies and their tempting product claims. Such checks should include visiting the website of the City regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, which lists common scams, including clone companies impersonating Prudential UK.

It is also important to check the credentials of a firm. Do not use the phone numbers printed on documents you receive, as these could be fake. When looking at websites, genuine ones will have a padlock sign on the left side of the address bar. Click on it to reveal the correct company name on the security certificate. If in doubt, ask friends or family for a second opinion.

Any bond that offers unusually high returns compared with the rest of the market should set off alarm bells. The crooks are getting away with it by playing on…

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