Scottish citizens are being targeted by crypto asset-related investment scams on a more regular basis. This is in part due to the way that scammers latch on to current events, trending topics, and the latest fads.
Some crypt assets, including Bitcoin and Ether, sometimes referred to as ‘cryptocurrencies’ are not regulated in the UK, meaning that buying, selling, or transferring these assets fall outside of the remit and protective powers of the Financial Conduct Authority.
FCA Warning List
The FCA issue regular consumer warnings on the risks of investing in cryptocurrency, as well as firms identified as operating illegally within the UK.
The warning list is available HERE.
Social Media Imposters
Scammers utilise social media channels to perpetrate crimes against consumers, as this method allows them to reach the largest number of people possible in a relatively short space of time.
This can include the use of images of celebrities or well-known individuals to promote cryptocurrency investments. These adverts link to professional-looking websites where consumers are persuaded to make investments with firms using crypto or traditional currencies.
The firms operating the scams are usually based outside the UK but will claim to have a UK presence, such as insisting they are from a prestigious City of London address. Scam firms can manipulate software to distort prices and investment returns, and they may even scam people into buying non-existent crypto assets.
They are also known to suddenly close online accounts and refuse to transfer funds to investors, or ask for more money before the funds can be realised.
While the FCA do not regulate crypto assets like Bitcoin or Ether, they do regulate certain crypto asset derivatives (such as futures contracts, contracts for difference and options), as well as those crypto assets they would consider securities.
It is always advisable to seek specialist advice on investments from someone qualified to provide guidance, such as an Independent Financial Adviser – it is best not to use an adviser from the company you will potentially be investing in.
When dealing with adverts relating to financial products or investments, it is important to ensure that we do not automatically assume they are genuine. Scammers can use professional looking websites, promotional adverts / materials, and social media posts that seem genuine.
Don’t be rushed into decisions
Additionally, you should not feel pressured or rushed into deciding quickly – genuine financial institutions will not force you to make a financial transaction on the spot.
Time is of the essence
You should get in contact with the bank, or institution for the method of payment used to see if they can put a stop to any additional transactions being carried out and stop or reverse any payments already made.
Depending on the way the scam was carried out, and the payment method that was used, your bank may be able to help.
Report scams to help prevent others being caught out
Scottish consumers can report suspected scams and suspicious activity using the Quick Reporting Tool at www.scamwatch.scot.
More information on common types of scams, as well as a whole host of additional information on consumer rights is available through www.consumeradvice.scot.
consumeradvice.scot specialist advisers are on hand to offer free, practical, and impartial advice and information on a range of consumer-related matters on 0808 164 6000 (Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm).