Cryptocurrencies are slowly gaining recognition as a lucrative investment opportunity around the world. Despite the volatility of the overall crypto market, UK became the leading country in Europe for cryptocurrency transactions in 2021, with deals worth GBP 123 billion. This has consequently led to the rise of crypto scams in the country. Now, the global financial services platform Santander said in a press release that the volume of celebrity-endorsed crypto scams during Q1 2022 has grown 65 percent year on year.
As per Santander, between Q4 2021 and Q1 2022, there has been an increase of 61 percent in case volumes. The organisation said that based on the current growth, it expects “an 87 percent increase in volume of cases in 2022 compared to 2021.”
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“We’re seeing a worrying rise in ‘celebrity-endorsed’ cryptocurrency scams, where familiar faces are being misused on social media in order to con people out of often life-changing sums of money,” said Santander UK’s risk management chief Chris Ainsley. “Rather than revelling in the promised high returns, people are losing significant sums after being duped by these highly sophisticated criminals. Always do your homework and thoroughly research any investment opportunity before moving any money — irrespective of who is endorsing it.”
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Celebrity crypto scams: How do they work?
Santander went on to explain how exactly a celeb-endorsed crypto scam works. It said that a customer is introduced to such scams via advertisements on social media, Google, or “even reputable media sites.” At times, even another social media user may recommend a crypto investment opportunity to the customer.
The customer clicks on a link and shares personal contact details, after which a fraudster will reach out to the customer via the phone, email, or social media. Using high-pressure sale tactics, the fraudster will lure the customer with promises of high returns with little or no risk.
The customer is then asked to download and install “specialist software,” which is nothing but a Trojan horse, giving the fraudster complete access to the customer’s device.
Now, the customer is asked to open crypto accounts and deposit money. Once that is done, the fraudster freezes access and takes over the customer’s account.
Crypto scams: How to protect yourself
Santander said in its note, “Don’t allow anyone to set up a cryptocurrency wallet, upload ID documents, or manage investments on your behalf remotely.”
“Avoid uninvited investment offers whether made on social media or over the phone. If you’re thinking about making an investment, thoroughly research the company first and consider getting independent advice,” the platform added. Santander also advised, “Don’t fall for pressurised sales with limited timescales and promises of too good to be true returns.”
Disclaimer: Crypto products and NFTs are unregulated and can be highly risky. There may be no regulatory recourse for any loss from such transactions. Cryptocurrency is not a legal tender and is subject to market risks. Readers are advised to seek expert advice and read offer document(s) along with related important literature on the subject carefully before making any kind of investment whatsoever. Cryptocurrency market predictions are speculative and any investment made shall be at the sole cost and risk of the readers.