Page last updated at 09:44 GMT, Saturday, 12 April 2008 10:44 UK

'I lost out to boiler room scam'

by Hayley Rothwell
Lanarkshire reporter, BBC Scotland news website

It seemed like a shrewd investment - buying shares in foreign companies that were doing well on the US stock exchange.

But two years later and 150,000 out of pocket, Tom McHenry still does not know what has happened to his money.

Tom McHenry
Tom McHenry may have lost up to 150,000 through the investments

"It was shortly after my wife died, I was getting phone calls from different investment companies asking me to invest," he said.

"It appeared that they were good investments.

"I put them off to start with, but they kept persisting and calling me back - telling me that they were sound investments and I would make a lot of money out of it."

The 61-year-old, from Salsburgh, North Lanarkshire, was contacted by stockbrokers in December 2006.

He initially invested 5,000 and was later persuaded to buy shares in a number of different companies.

Tom said he invested just under 150,000 in total.

At first the brokers kept in touch, but by April 2007 they seemed to have disappeared without a trace.

"The phone calls became scarcer and scarcer, I tried to get in touch with them but then they were uncontactable. I became a bit worried about it and got in contact with the police," he said.

Don't be polite to them - just hang up
Tom McHenry

Tom believes he may have fallen victim to "boiler room" scammers.

The term dates back to pre-war New York where, according to legend, mobsters rented boiler rooms in Wall Street offices, because that was all they could afford.

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) said it received about 100 complaints about bogus stockbrokers every week.

And earlier this week Lothian and Borders Police urged small-share investors to be on their guard after it emerged one man from the area was conned out of half a million pounds.

Tom said Strathclyde Police, Interpol and even the Canadian Mounted Police have been involved in the search for his money and, while some of his shares seemed to be legitimate, he is yet to discover if he will get back any of his cash.

The former tool firm owner thinks he may have been targeted because the bogus stockbrokers discovered his wife Mary had passed away and believed he might have come into an inheritance.

He had hoped to use the returns on his investments to buy a holiday home.

"Hindsight's a tremendous thing," said Tom.

"But what I would say is, if you are offered any financial help, or to invest in any company through either the telephone or by internet, don't be polite to them - just hang up and tell them you're not interested."

Man loses 500,000 in stock scam
09 Apr 08 |  Edinburgh, East and Fife
The great British share swindle
21 Mar 08 |  Business
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