An elderly couple has reportedly lost £80,000 (roughly $100,000) in a cryptocurrency scam falsely linked to UK financial expert Martin Lewis.
Martin Lewis is a well-known personality in the UK, recognized for his expertise in consumer finance, journalism, and TV presenting. He is the founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, a website offering financial advice and money-saving tips. Martin is regularly on TV and radio shows and is known for his advocacy for financial education and consumer protection. His contributions to consumer rights and charity have earned him the OBE. With his vast knowledge and influence, Martin is widely considered an authority on personal finance in the UK.
According to an article published on April 23, 2023 on UK-based financial website This Is Money, the couple, Barbara and Ewan Atkins (to safeguard the privacy of the scam victims, the names were altered) fell victim to a conman who falsely claimed to be endorsed by Martin Lewis. Apparently, the scammer convinced the couple to invest in Bitcoin through a series of transactions using FinTech platforms Revolut, Wise, and Binance. Posing as an investment manager, the fraudster guided the couple in setting up accounts and avoiding fraud prevention measures. The couple made 14 transactions ranging from £3,000 to £5,000, with their “investment” purportedly doubling in value within four weeks.
However, when the couple attempted to withdraw their funds, they were asked to pay £10,000 for capital gains tax, at which point they realized they had been scammed. Their daughter and son-in-law reported the fraud to the banks, but both Barclays and Revolut allegedly refused to reimburse the lost funds.
Reportedly, Barclays told the pensioners that they would not be reimbursed for their lost money, as the bank claimed to have warned them about the payments beforehand and made a call to confirm the transactions. In a similar vein, Revolut apparently denied the existence of fraudulent activity in the couple’s account and then reportedly refused to compensate them for their loss. Instead, they allegedly sent the couple a few links for informational purposes (among them, a link to a website for finding a food bank), hoping to assist them in comprehending the situation and avoiding similar situations in the future.
Revolut has announced that it is expected to receive its UK banking license in the near future. Although the company offers current account services, it is not classified as a bank. The article states that Revolut is not a signatory of the Contingent Reimbursement Model (CRM), an agreement between UK banks to refund certain types of fraud victims.
The story has highlighted the importance of verifying investment opportunities’ legitimacy and financial firms’ legitimacy before making transactions. Martin Lewis’s website, MoneySavingExpert.com, as well as Barclays and Revolut, have urged consumers to remain vigilant and conduct thorough research before investing.
A Revolut spokesman told This Is Money:
“We are very sorry that Mr and Mrs Atkins were targeted by ruthless and highly sophisticated criminals. We take our responsibility to protect and support our customers extremely seriously and have made significant investments in our systems, processes and people to ensure that our customers are safe. When making an investment, we urge everyone to take steps to satisfy themselves that the person they are sending money to is legitimate. We encourage customers to check the investment company is genuine and a regulated firm. If in doubt, seek trusted independent financial advice first.“