The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has issued a warning after fraudsters were found to be feigning the Punter Southall brand.

Unauthorised business has been appearing to be the actual FCA-authorised financial planning firm, the regulator said. The watchdog also said fraudsters were using or giving false information as part of their tactics to scam people in the UK.

The FCA continued: "Almost all firms and individuals carrying out financial services activities in the UK have to be authorised or registered by us. This firm is not authorised or registered by us but has been targeting people in the UK, claiming to be an authorised firm.

"This is what we call a 'clone firm' and fraudsters usually use this tactic when contacting people out of the blue, so you should be especially wary if you have been cold called. They may use the name of the genuine firm, the 'firm reference number' we have given the authorised firm or other details.

The regulator added: "Be aware that scammers may give out other false details or mix these with some correct details of the registered firm. "They may change contact details over time to new email addresses, telephone numbers or physical addresses."

Punter Southall has no association with the clone firm and said it had flagged the fraudulent business to the FCA. The adviser business said: "There has been a rise in fraudsters who are impersonating financial services firms, including Punter Southall.

"They often use techniques such as creating fake websites, sending cloned e-mails that purport to be from a real firm and attempting to convince clients that the firm has changed its bank account details to encourage funds to be paid into the fraudster's own bank account. We will never use our website to ask you to provide personal details to subscribe for services or to make payments to us. We will never use our website to ask you to subscribe for an investment opportunity."

It continued: "If you come across a website that purports to be Punter Southall that asks you to provide your personal details or to make a payment, it will be a fraudulent website that is not connected to Punter Southall, so please do not respond to it and speak to your adviser or investment manager, who will be able to help."

Punter Southall said the clone site has now been taken down and that no clients had been affected. 

In February, clone scammers targeted St. James's Place (SJP) customers by pretending to be a fake bond website acting as an adviser from the firm.