Up to 200 000 people in Spain risk losing their savings in a fraudulent postage stamp investment scheme.
The investors put their money into the stamps after receiving promises of a 6 per cent annual return.
The alarm was raised when the companies, Forum Filatelico and Afinsa failed to pay out promised dividends.
Anti-corruption prosecutors have been called in and charges of money laundering and falsification of documents brought.
Neither the scale of the losses nor the chances of recovering the money have been established, but concerned investors have been turned away from the company headquarters and told to come back tommorrow.
“I’ve lost 180 000 euros,” said one man. “It’s my life savings.”
The amount of money invested in the schemes looks to be greater than the value of Spain’s entire philately market.