Between June and July 2018, victims collectively lost just over £2m ($2.2m, €2.6m), an average of £10,096 per person.
Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and cybercrime reporting centre, warned that the surge in popularity of cryptocurrencies has given rise to more fraud in this area.
How the scam works
Fraudsters are cold calling victims and using social media platforms to advertise ‘get rich quick’ investments in mining and trading cryptocurrencies.
Victims are convinced to sign up to investment websites and part with personal information to open accounts; such as credit card details and driving licences.
After making an initial minimum deposit, the scammer will call the investor to persuade them to part with more money in order to achieve a greater profit.
In some cases, the fraud only comes to light after the website has been deactivated and the suspects can no longer be contacted.
Do your research before investing
Pauline Smith, director of Action Fraud, said: “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.
“If you think you have been the victim of this type of fraud, contact Action Fraud,” Smith urged.
Top tips to avoid being defrauded
Don’t assume it’s real – professional-looking websites, adverts or social media posts don’t always mean that an investment opportunity is genuine. Criminals can use the names of well-known brands or individuals to make their scams appear legitimate.
Money saving expert Martin Lewis blasted “liars” last September for using his name and reputation to scam people.
Don’t be rushed or pressured into making a decision – a genuine bank or financial organisation won’t force you to part with your money on the spot. Always be war if you’re pressured to invest quickly or promised returns that sound too good to be to true.
Stay in control – avoid uninvited investment offers, especially those over cold calls. If you’re thinking about making an investment, get independent advice and thoroughly research the company first.