Scam alert: Cryptocurrencies
Beware of Cryptocurrency Scams
Cryptocurrency scams are soaring in the UK as criminals cheat hundreds of millions of pounds out of victims through cryptocurrency fraud. Case volumes jumped 61% in the first quarter of 2022 from the prior three months. In April, Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey said that cryptocurrencies are the new ‘front line’ in the types of criminal scams regulators are trying to combat.
Public interest in cryptocurrency investing has soared as investors pile in for ‘fear of missing out’. Criminals are taking advantage of victims and luring them in with websites, social media posts, emails and online adverts. Cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin and Ether, are not regulated in the UK.
Remember: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
What to watch out for
1. Social media and celebrity-endorsed scams
Cryptocurrency fraudsters tend to advertise on social media using images of well-known celebrities and individuals to promote cryptocurrency investments.
These ‘celebrity-endorsed’ cryptocurrency scams are mainly seen on Instagram, but all platforms are affected.
Clicking the advert takes you to a full article where there are fake quotes recommending that you invest. You may also be required to input your contact details, after which the fraudster will telephone or email you to try to convince you to invest.
Consumers are then persuaded to invest with the fraudster firm. These firms are usually based outside of the UK but claim to have a UK presence, often in a prestigious City of London address.
2. Hacked accounts
Elsewhere in the UK, the police have seen several reports where social media accounts (mainly Instagram) have been hacked. The fraudsters then use the hacked account, which they’ve gained control over, to send personal messages and create posts and stories, encouraging friends/connections of that account to invest in an opportunity that is too good to miss. In some cases, the fraudsters will show high returns and offer easy money quickly in order to obtain your money or personal information.
How to avoid falling for these scams
- Don’t assume it’s authentic – professional-looking websites, adverts or social media posts do not indicate that the investment opportunity is genuine. Criminals will exploit the names of well-known brands and individuals to make the scam appear legitimate.
- Don’t be rushed or pressured into making an investment – no legitimate person or firm will pressure you into making an investment or committing to something on the spot.
- Stay in control – take time to do your research. Seek advice from trusted friends, family members or independent professional advice services before making a significant financial decision.
- Use a financial adviser accredited by the Financial Conduct Authority, as even genuine investment opportunities can be high risk.
What action should you take?
- Contact your relationship manager immediately and report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040.
- Visit Take Five and Cyber Aware for more information on how to protect yourself online.
- Every Report Matters – if you have been a victim of fraud or cybercrime, please report it.
If you think you may have handed over your bank or debit card details to scammers, please contact us immediately.