Star fund manager Nick Train impersonated in WhatsApp scam

A WhatsApp group claiming to be run by the Lindsell Train founder has been trying to con investors. We look at what happened - plus how to protect yourself from investment fraud

Smartphone showing WhatsApp logo
A WhatsApp group called British Stock Investment Association was set up by scammers impersonating Nick Train
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Investors have been getting messages from a fraudster pretending to be star fund manager Nick Train.

The messages appeared on a WhatsApp group called British Stock Investment Association. The Times reports that the group was set up by scammers impersonating Train.

A founder of the fund management house Lindsell Train, Nick Train looks after almost £8 billion of investors’ money. He manages the Finsbury Growth & Income Trust, Lindsell Train investment trust and WS Lindsell Train UK Equity fund, as well as co-managing the Lindsell Train Global Equity fund.

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It is unclear how many victims were in the bogus WhatsApp group, or why they joined. However, scams targeting other fund managers have used social media adverts in the past.

For example, Terry Smith, who runs the £25 billion Fundsmith Equity fund, has been impersonated on Facebook and Instagram. The scam advert, which carried a picture of Smith, encouraged users to join a WhatsApp group.

According to The Times, the advert stated: “Hold these three stocks and you’ll be a millionaire”.

WhatsApp is becoming an increasingly popular way for scammers to prey on victims. Other WhatsApp scams include fraudsters pretending to be a member of your family, and saying they’re in need of money; WhatsApp Gold, which claims to be an elite paid subscription version of the app used by rich people and celebrities; and fraudsters posing as recruitment agents.

Lindsell Train told The Times that the WhatsApp group has no association with Train or with the company. “WhatsApp, or any other similar application, is not a means used by Lindsell Train to communicate business matters,” it said.

How common are investment scams? 

Investment fraud is on the rise. According to UK Finance, there were 10,226 reported investment scams last year, up from 8,181 in 2020.

Data from Barclays also warns of a significant rise in social media investment scams. The bank said that in 2023, one third of all money lost to scammers came from investment scams, which have increased in volume by almost 29%.

As well as Nick Train and Terry Smith, other high-profile investors that have been impersonated in scams include Cathie Wood from Ark Invest and Bill Ackman from Pershing Square.

Investment scams can include social media adverts offering unrealistic returns, as well as fraud involving property, gold, carbon credits, cryptocurrencies, wine, and more.

A UK Finance spokesperson said: “Criminals are cruel and look for any opportunity to steal your money, which can include impersonating individuals and organisations which you trust.

“This includes investment scams, where the criminal will approach you purporting to be from a trusted organisation offering you investments deals almost too good to be true.

"It is important to follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign and always check you are speaking to the genuine company before sending money or sharing personal information. Only criminals will try and rush you, so stop and challenge requests before parting with your money or personal information.”

How to protect yourself from investment scams

UK Finance gives the following advice to protect yourself from investment scams:

  • Stop. Be cautious if you’re contacted out of the blue by phone, email or social media about an investment opportunity. If you’re concerned about the engagement being genuine you should contact the organisation/individual on the number you know to be true.
  • Challenge. Be cautious of approaches presenting you with exclusive investment opportunities. It could be a scam if you’re being pressured to act quickly. You can also check and search the FCA Warning List of firms that are known to be operating without permission or running scams. 
  • Protect. Don’t give anyone offering to make investments on your behalf remote access to your computer or your personal or financial information. If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, report this to Action Fraud and to your bank immediately.
Ruth Emery
Contributing editor

Ruth is an award-winning financial journalist with more than 15 years' experience of working on national newspapers, websites and specialist magazines.

She is passionate about helping people feel more confident about their finances. She was previously editor of Times Money Mentor, and prior to that was deputy Money editor at The Sunday Times. 

A multi-award winning journalist, Ruth started her career on a pensions magazine at the FT Group, and has also worked at Money Observer and Money Advice Service. 

Outside of work, she is a mum to two young children, while also serving as a magistrate and an NHS volunteer.