By Lea Pachta

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) is contacting more than 38,000 people across the UK to warn them that they could be the target of share fraud after it recovered a master list used by boiler room fraudsters.

The list contains the names and addresses of 38,242 people who the FSA believes may be contacted out of the blue and offered worthless shares. The greatest concentrations of targets are based largely in London and the South East, but there are significant numbers present in Yorkshire and Lancashire too.

The list is the biggest the FSA has ever recovered and is believed to still be in active use by boiler rooms operating in the UK and abroad. The FSA is in the process of writing to every single person on the list to alert them to their presence on it, and to inform them how to avoid getting scammed. Anybody who thinks they may have been targeted by a boiler room should call the FSA's customer contact centre on 0845 606 1234.

People can avoid becoming victims of share fraud by:

- Hanging up the telephone if they receive an ‘out of the blue' call offering them shares;
- Checking the FSA Register to see if the person selling shares is authorised to do so;
- Calling the company back using the details on the FSA Register to verify their identity; and
- Reporting any company that cold calls them to sell shares to the FSA or the Police.

The FSA recovered the master list through its intelligence network with counterparts in the United States, Immigration & Customs Enforcement and the Internal Revenue Service.

Jonathan Phelan, the FSA's head of unauthorised business said:

"This is the biggest list we've ever recovered and by acting quickly and contacting every single person on it we're hoping we can stop people losing money.

"Boiler rooms fraudsters often sound professional so it's easy to be drawn in by their overblown claims and give them money to invest. The reality is however that the shares are worthless or don't exist and the money is lost forever.

"Cold calling to sell shares is rarely allowed, so anybody who receives a call like this should be extremely sceptical. However, if you're in any doubt at all, contact the FSA's consumer helpline and we will be able to provide further guidance."

Share fraudsters, commonly know as boiler rooms, usually contact people by telephone and use high pressure sales tactics to con investors into buying non-tradable, overpriced or even non-existent shares. These fraudsters are unauthorised, normally overseas-based companies with fake UK addresses and phone lines routed abroad.

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