It’s Take Five Week (September 13-17) and Take Five to Stop Fraud is warning people to protect themselves from cryptocurrency scams targeting unsuspecting potential investors.
We know that criminals are always on the lookout for the next lucrative opportunity and the search trend analysis conducted for the Take Five campaign shows that interest in crypto investing has increased. In May 2021, the British Google search for the term “investing in crypto” increased tenfold. Searches rose year-over-year from 25,210 (May 2020) to 340,460 (May 2021), and it is precisely this kind of interest that criminals are trying to exploit, as they have and continue to do over the years.
Tony Blake, Former Police Officer and Fraud Expert at Take Five, Shares The Truth About Cryptocurrency Investing Scams: What To Look For, What Tricks Criminals Use, And How To Protect Your Finances.
What is crypto?
Cryptocurrencies are digital currencies that use cryptography to generate “tokens” and verify the transfer of those tokens between people. Cryptocurrencies are known for their market volatility, causing the value of investors’ assets to rise and fall rapidly. Criminals have exploited the unregulated nature of cryptocurrencies to scam consumers.
Criminals take advantage of the turmoil in the cryptocurrency markets, pushing people to part with their money and pretending to buy in at the right time.
Find out more about cryptocurrencies, what they are and how you can invest in them here
Common cryptocurrency investing scams to watch out for
Criminals are using increasingly sophisticated techniques and adapting the way they operate in order to lure people with offers that are too good to be true.
What all of these scams have in common is that they are contacted by phone, email, or social media through an opportunity with aggressive techniques and incentives to buy before certain deadlines. You may be told that the time is right for you to shop and pressured into making a decision with no time to think about it. All under the guise of “If you don’t act now, you are missing out”.
There are many ways that criminals can try to trick you into parting with your money. Some of the most common banks reported to UK Finance are:
Many cryptocurrency investment scams are advertised online through social networks, often with fake celebrities or personal testimonials promising quick cash to potential investors. Often times, the celebrities don’t even know their name or photo was used.
For example, ‘Arun’ * saw a celebrity-recommended social media post promoting the promise of big returns on Bitcoin. He contacted the company and after a phone call with a “dealer” was convinced to make a payment of £ 300. After logging into his trading account on the website, he saw his investments soar. Under pressure from another “trader” of the company, Arun continued to invest more money and was persuaded to take out a loan that the criminal had obtained. Arun didn’t realize it was a scam until he couldn’t access his account to withdraw his money or contact the company.
Scam with mining programs
Criminals can contact you with a lucrative business: make money simply by running software on your computer or phone. After paying an initial fee to create their account or improve their current mining system, victims can no longer access their account or contact the seller – and discover the mining operation that doesn’t exist.
For example, ‘Emma’ * had owned cryptocurrencies for a number of years and the value of her investment had gone up and down. Some of Emma’s friends got into crypto mining and said it was a great opportunity to generate passive income without a lot of effort or knowledge.
After joining a mining group on social media to learn more, Emma was contacted by a “successful cryptocurrency trader” who offered her fixed returns on an investment in a mining program. Emma transferred some of her cryptocurrency to the merchant, but found that she had fallen for a scam when the merchant was no longer available.
Learn more about Bitcoin mining here
New coin fraud:
Similar to the mining scam, criminals encourage victims to buy a brand new cryptocurrency coin. With the promise of high returns with seemingly little or no risk. As soon as the victim buys “the coin”, they can neither access their currency nor contact the criminal.
- You will be contacted by phone, email, or social media for an opportunity that uses aggressive techniques and incentives to purchase before certain deadlines
- You will be notified of your purchase at the perfect time. They can be offered
- You are under pressure to make a decision without time to think
For example, ‘Jadon’ * had heard a lot about cryptocurrency traders investing money in Bitcoin years ago and making a fortune. The influencers he followed on social media encouraged everyone to get involved. He went online to do some research and concluded that to make the most of the money, he had to invest in a new coin.
Jadon saw an ad for a new coin and found it on a broker site. The ad said he could triple his money in months and that the mint’s makers had an office in London. Jadon put most of his savings in the coin as he wanted to maximize his returns and was told that he would not lose anything as he was buying in in the beginning. It only dawned on Jadon that he had been the victim of a scam when his account stopped working and he was asked to make another payment to access his money.
* These case studies are based on insights from UK financial partners and are based on real stories
Are you thinking about investing in cryptocurrency? It is important to remember …
- Crypto assets are nothing like money. Before you consider making a purchase, do some research, such as: B. That the company registration number is clearly displayed so that you can verify it with Companies House. This only applies to companies registered in the UK.
- Most cryptocurrencies are not regulated by the FCA, which means they are not protected by the UK Financial Services Compensation Scheme. If you are scammed, your money is unlikely to be returned to you.
- Even if your friends or family are investing, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is safe. You cannot call your provider to recall your transaction as if you were using a credit card.
- Aggressive, opaque and / or unrealistic approaches, incentives to buy before a certain deadline and minimum order quantities can indicate fraud. Most reputable exchanges will not employ these tactics and will allow you to buy crypto for as little as £ 1.
- Report fraudulent advertisements that appear in online paid areas by visiting the Advertising Standard Authority website where you can complete the quick report form.
Jasmine regularly conducts webinars on safe investing in cryptocurrencies. Sign up for her next one here
Protect your finances
If something goes wrong with a cryptocurrency investment, you are unlikely to get your money back as most of the time it is not covered by the UK Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
Take Five urges people to stop and question situations where they could face potential cryptocurrency scams.
If you are unexpectedly contacted about an investment opportunity, here are some things you need to do to make sure it is not a cryptocurrency investment scam:
- STOP: Take a moment to pause and think before parting with your money or information might be protecting you.
- CHALLENGE: Could it be a fake? It’s okay to decline, decline, or ignore requests. Only criminals will try to rush you or panic you.
- PROTECT: Contact your bank immediately if you believe you have fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud.
You can learn more about cryptocurrency investing fraud here.
If you think you have fallen for cryptocurrency investment scams, contact your bank immediately at a number you know is correct, such as the one on your bank statement, their website, or the back of your debit or credit card Credit card is listed.
Report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or via actionfraud.police.uk. If you are in Scotland, please contact Police Scotland directly on 101 or Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000.