Watchdog sounds alarm on graphene scams

Investors have been warned over scams linked to investments in graphene, the new "wonder" material which has already won its inventors a Nobel Prize and generated heat over its potential commercial uses.

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Details of purported investments in graphene were found on the computer system of a suspected "boiler room" scheme by officials at the U.K.'s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which regulates financial services. Boiler room schemes typically involve cold-calling salesmen offering investments to consumers, which seem high-return but are often high-risk.

(Read more: UK scientists launch IPO for latest 'wonder material')

The watchdog believes other firms are targeting vulnerable investors with high-risk investments in the material, which is still unregulated, making it difficult to prove whether they even own the graphene.

It is believed that super-strong and thin graphene could have uses ranging from electronics to reducing energy usage. The race is on to produce a commercially viable and high-quality version for use in industry, after its discovery in 2004 by Manchester University scientists who subsequently won the Nobel Prize for Physics for their discovery.

"The unscrupulous individuals behind scams are always on the lookout for new ways to part people from their money," Tracey McDermott, director of enforcement and financial crime at the FCA, said in a statement. "They're inventive and they'll create investment schemes based on what is being talked about in the media."

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