British authorities have recently issued a warning against cryptocurrency-related fraud, as victims reportedly lost over £2 million ($2.55 million) between June and July of this year, leading to an average loss of £10,085 ($12,000) per person.
The warning cites statistics prepared by the Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting service, which revealed how cybercriminals are tricking their victims into investing in fraudulent cryptocurrency investment schemes.
Per Action Fraud, fraudsters are cold calling victims and leveraging social media to trick victims into investing in “get rich quick” investments that are supposedly related to cryptocurrency mining and trading.
Using these techniques, fraudsters get victims to sign up to cryptocurrency investment websites and reveal their personal details, including credit card information, to open a “trading” account. After the victims make an initial deposit, fraudsters call them again to get them to invest again, citing greater profit potential.
In some cases, according to Action Fraud, victims only realized they have been scammed after the websites they were tricked into registering in no longer work, and the individuals who contacted them are unreachable.
Commenting on the fraudsters’ success, Action Fraud Director Pauline Smith stated:
It’s vital for anyone who invests or is thinking of investing in cryptocurrencies to thoroughly research the company they are choosing to invest with. The statistics show that opportunistic fraudsters are taking advantage of this market, offering investments in cryptocurrencies and using every trick in the book to defraud unsuspecting victims.
In response to an increase in cryptocurrency-related fraud, the City of London Police’s Economic Crime Academy (ECA) has reportedly created a new one-day course on cryptocurrencies called “Cryptocurrencies for Investigations,” to train officers to “recognize and manage cryptocurrencies in their investigations.”
In the warning, Action Fraud added that victims shouldn’t assume these investment schemes are genuine, even if their websites look professional and the criminals use the names of well-known brands or individuals.
The fraud reporting service added that no one should be rushed into making a decision, as a legitimate bank or financial organization won’t attempt to force people to part from their money on the spot.
Action Fraud further urged those who have been victims of this type of fraud to contact it, and advised people to thoroughly research companies before putting in their money.