Santander teams up with poets to turn financial crimes into rhymes to raise awareness of investment fraud

  • New research1 reveals that 73% of Brits are worried about falling victim to an investment scam
  • 25% of Brits know someone affected or have themselves been affected by an investment scam and on average have lost £10,000
  • Over a quarter (27%) of Brits report being more heavily targeted by scammers since the outbreak of Covid-19
  • Levels of investment scams have increased rapidly over the last year with Santander seeing highest values reported in May 2020
  • Poets Pam Ayres and Suli Breaks have partnered with Santander to turn financial crimes into rhymes to help the public spot the signs of investment scams

Launching ahead of National Poetry Day on 1 October, ‘Santander’s Scam Sonnets’ aim to raise awareness of investment fraud - which is when a fraudster offers a fake but convincing opportunity to make a profit by handing over a sum of money. Pam Ayres’ Have you got some money? and Suli Breaks’ Too good to be true, incorporate words and phrases from real scam emails, online adverts and telephone calls received by investment scam victims.

New research of 2,000 British adults carried out by Santander reveals that only 4 in 10 Brits say they know what an investment scam is. But a quarter (25%) of Brits have been affected or know someone who has been affected by an investment scam, with £10,000 lost on average.

In the research, over a quarter of Brits (29%) reported either a partial or total loss of earnings since the outbreak of Covid-19 - potentially making them more susceptible to the lure of a money making investment scam, a fact being exploited by fraudsters with 27% of Brits also saying they have been more heavily targeted by scam communications since the pandemic and lockdown began.

New figures published by UK Finance on 24 September revealed a 27% increase in investment scams compared to the same period last year – with £55.2 million lost in the UK in the first six months of 20202. The increase is mirrored by Santander’s own data with May 2020 seeing the highest single monthly volume of investment scams that the bank has ever had reported by customers3.

Pension pots

Investment scammers commonly target people aged over 55 who are preparing for retirement and want to see their savings and pensions go further. Santander’s own data reveals that customers aged over 55 have reported 75% of the value of investment fraud in the last 12 months.

Santander’s research also found that on average, Brits aged 55 and over are being contacted at least once a week by what they believe to be financial scammers. While the most common approach reported was email (71%), followed by unsolicited phone calls at (40%), fraudsters are using increasingly sophisticated tactics to persuade victims to invest in bogus opportunities.

Fake websites and celebrity endorsements

Fraudsters methods include impersonating or cloning credible investment firms online. This means that when a would-be investor searches for investment opportunities, they may be unknowingly visiting a website that a fraudster has copied from a legitimate investment firm.  Worryingly, nearly half (49%) of Brits say they would rely on researching an investment firm online to confirm their validity.

With 41% of Brits also admitting they would feel more confident about an investment opportunity if they believed it was endorsed by a famous face, Santander is urging would-be investors to see beyond the use of fake celebrity and influencer endorsements - a common trick used by fraudsters to encourage people to invest in cryptocurrency scams.

Social media and cryptocurrency scams

Santander’s research also reveals that almost a third (31%) of 35-54 year olds report being targeted with financial scams online and on social media. This correlates with a rise in cryptocurrency scams, where fraudsters use social media to target potential investors and promote fake online cryptocurrency trading platforms. In the first six months of 2020, Santander saw a 235% increase in the value of reported cryptocurrency scams.

Dan Standish, fraud strategy at Santander says, “Fraudsters are extremely clever, convincing and have taken the time to practice and hone their techniques. Their confidence, apparent expertise and friendly demeanour can all make a scam investment opportunity difficult to spot.

“That’s why, ahead of National Poetry Day, we’ve worked with two fantastic poets, Pam Ayres and Suli Breaks, to help bring these dangers to the front of the public’s mind in an engaging way. By using the language of the scammers, we aim to help the public spot the familiar words, phrases and signs of investment fraud early before it’s too late.”

Poet Pam Ayres says, “Fraudsters target and dupe their victims with their clever use of language – professional, confident and reassuring communications that draw you in and make you feel in complete control. Sadly, the reality is far from it. That’s why, ahead of National Poetry Day, I’ve partnered with Santander to use the language of the scammers to help the public spot the signs of a scam and protect themselves from the devastating effect of investment fraud.”

Suli Breaks, performance-poet, says, “You think you’ll never be the victim of an investment scam, but it really can happen to anyone. Aspirational social media posts, the clever use of celebrity and the promise of a ‘now or never’ opportunity all exist to make a scam appear real and push you to take advantage of their ‘amazing returns’ – but we all need to watch out for each other, and remember, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.” 

• Santander’s Scam Sonnets by Pam Ayres and Suli Breaks can be watched in full here

• Pam’s poem Have you got some money? can be watched here

• Suli’s poem Too good to be true can be watched here

Thinking about investing? Remember:
• Check the investment opportunity you've been offered to avoid scams - use the FCA ScamSmart tool4 to help do this.
• Cloned firms – genuine firms are being ‘cloned’ to make you invest - call the number on the FCA register5 to check before you send money.
• Don’t be rushed – pressure or an offer that seems too good to be true are warning signs.

To register for a free 30 minute virtual scam awareness event visit

- Ends -

The information contained in our press releases is intended solely for journalists and should not be used by consumers to make financial decisions.

Notes to Editors

1) The survey of 2,000 British adults was conducted by 3Gem in August 2020 on behalf of Santander. 
2) UK Finance data published 24 September 2020
3) Santander UK’s internal fraud reporting data.
4) The FCA ScamSmart tool is available online here
5) The FCA Register can be found online here
6) Take Five is a national campaign that offers straight-forward and impartial advice to help everyone protect themselves from preventable financial fraud. Find out more at
7) For more advice about how to stay safe from financial fraud, visit:

Excerpt from Have you got some money? by Pam Ayres
Have you got some money?  Are you getting on, like me?
Are you heading for retirement? Being wild and free?
Are you looking for investments? Somewhere canny for your cash?
Be careful.  There are fraudsters who will steal it in a flash.

They are thieving people’s savings, taking everything they’ve got.
Especially the older folk who’ve got a pension pot,
They do not stalk the foolish, no, that isn’t what they do,
They target able, well-researched investors. Just like you.

Excerpt from Too good to be true by Suli Breaks
You see investment scams, ain’t as simple,
as something, you just dismiss in a pop-up window. 
It’s a voice that sounds professional, a tone that’s mildly personal
A well-presented, well-edited article 
A picture of someone recognisable
Combined with words that pull the trigger on the response that’s emotional 
That's how they find their target.

It’s not stupidity when the desire for financial security gets mixed with curiosity.
Imagine spending all your life saving
To end up losing all your life savings.

Santander UK is a financial services provider in the UK that offers a wide range of personal and commercial financial products and services. At 30 June 2020, the bank had around 23,000 employees and serves around 14 million active customers, via a nationwide branch network, telephone, mobile and online banking. Santander UK is subject to the full supervision of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) in the UK. Santander UK plc customers’ eligible deposits are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) in the UK.

Banco Santander (SAN SM, STD US, BNC LN) is a leading retail and commercial bank, founded in 1857 and headquartered in Spain. It has a meaningful presence in 10 core markets in Europe and the Americas, and is one of the largest banks in the world by market capitalization. Its purpose is to help people and businesses prosper in a simple, personal and fair way. Santander is building a more responsible bank and has made a number of commitments to support this objective, including raising over €120 billion in green financing between 2019 and 2025, as well as financially empowering more than 10 million people over the same period. At the end of the first half of 2020, Banco Santander had more than a trillion euros in total funds, 146 million customers, of which 21.5 million are loyal and 40 million are digital, 11,800 branches and 194,000 employees.