Police are warning people about the dangers of cryptocurrency scams after a person was conned into transferring over £150,000 to fraudsters.
Concerned staff at a bank in Cheltenham contacted police after someone wanted to transfer over a large amount of money to a suspected fraudulent account.
It transpired that several transactions had been made over a number of months as the person, aged in their 60s, believed they were investing in cryptocurrency.
Large sums of money have been transferred over and it is understood that the total is more than £150,000.
Police are warning people to remain vigilant when making investments as people can be lured into scams by social media posts or online ads. In this case the victim was in contact with fraudsters via WhatsApp.
Cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency designed to work as a medium of exchange.
Action Fraud says as more people have invested their money in cryptocurrencies, criminals have capitalised on this as an opportunity to commit fraud.
Criminals advertise schemes promising, in some cases, high returns through cryptocurrency investing or mining.
Advice from Action Fraud on how to protect yourself
- Be wary of adverts online and on social media promising high returns on investments in cryptoassets or cryptoasset-related products and be suspicious if you are contacted out the blue about an investment opportunity. This could be via a cold-call, an e-mail or an approach on social media.
- Don’t be rushed into making an investment. No legitimate person or firm will pressure you into making an investment, or committing to something on the spot. Take time to do your research.
- Most firms advertising and selling investments in cryptoassets are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). This means that if you invest in certain cryptoassets you will not have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service or the Financial Services Compensation Scheme if things go wrong – so always check the FCA Register to make sure you’re dealing with an authorised firm and check the FCA Warning List of firms to avoid.
- Seek advice from trusted friends, family members or independent professional advice services before making a significant financial decision. Even genuine investment opportunities can be high risk.
- Use a financial advisor accredited by the Financial Conduct Authority. Paying for professional advice may seem like an unnecessary expense, but it will help prevent you from being scammed.
- Only use the telephone number and email address on the FCA Register, not the contact details the firm gives you and look out for subtle differences.
- Just because a company has a glossy website and glowing reviews from ‘high net worth’ investors does not mean it is genuine – fraudsters will go to great lengths to convince you they are not a scam.
- Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
If you think you’ve been a victim of an investment fraud, report it to Action Fraud online at www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040. For more information about investment fraud, visit www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart.