Millions of social media users are being warned over a dangerous rise in cryptocurrency scams.
Figures seen reveal how thousands of users are being targeted by sinister scammers online.
It means users of popular apps like Facebook, Twitter and TikTok need to be especially cautious when it comes to crypto posts.
Just over 7,200 reports of crypto scams were made to the FCA, the UK’s finance watchdog, in the year leading up to June 30, 2022.
It marks a staggering 45% increase over the previous year, in figures obtained by Capital Block.
“Many of these scams are coming through big social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter unchecked,” said Capital Block CEO Tim Mangnall,
“Much like governments and regulators worldwide, these platforms need to do a better job of screening what is and isn’t legitimate, and ultimately what is and what isn’t allowed through to consumers.”
The Sun previously revealed how fake celeb endorsements were being used to promote cryptocurrency scams online.
These adverts prey on innocent victims who might be unaware of the dangers of crypto scams.
But Capital Block warns that even big businesses and experienced investors are getting caught out by scams.
Many of the scams involve getting users to sign up to fake apps or wallets, investing in false crypto coins, or through traditional phishing – where you’re tricked into handing over info to a crook online.
Figures obtained using a freedom of information request reveal a shocking rise in reports to the FCA:
- 2018/2019 – 1,840 reports
- 2019/2020 – 1,838 reports
- 2020/2021 – 5,040 reports
- 2021,2022 – 7,287 reports
Social media sites and even Google search regularly (and unwittingly) play host to cryptocurrency scams.
Earlier this year, crypto-crooks used the death of Queen Elizabeth II to share fake “meme coins” scams on social media to make a quick buck.
Experts are now calling on the government to do more to stop Brits becoming victims.
“Crypto scams continue to rise unabated, and something needs to be done to stop vulnerable people from being harmed,” Mangnall warned.
“The UK Government has made a huge play of becoming a ‘cryptoasset tech hub’.
“If it’s serious about attracting investment in the space, it needs to be serious about protecting people.”
Facebook has strict advertising rules that force crypto firms to provide evidence that their tech is safe.
“Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology is a quickly evolving and dynamic industry highly prone to financial scams and misleading advertising,” Facebook explains.
“To reduce risks to consumers, we require advertisers seeking to promote cryptocurrency trading platforms, software or services and products that use blockchain technology to provide evidence that their activities are appropriately licensed.”
Last year, Google issued a warning over cryptocurrency scams on YouTube.
“Safe Browsing is further detecting and blocking malware landing pages and downloads.
“YouTube has hardened channel transfer workflows, detected and auto-recovered over 99% of hijacked channels.”
How to stay safe online
The City of London Police’s Action Fraud division recommends being extremely wary of adverts online and on social media that promise high returns on crypto investments.
“No legitimate person or firm will pressure you into making an investment, or committing to something on the spot. Take time to do your research.”
It offered these five tips:
- Seek advice from trusted friends, family members or independent professional advice services before making a significant financial decision. Even genuine investment opportunities can be high risk.
- Use a financial advisor accredited by the Financial Conduct Authority. Paying for professional advice may seem like an unnecessary expense, but it will help prevent you from being scammed.
- Only use the telephone number and email address on the FCA Register, not the contact details the firm gives you and look out for subtle differences.
- Just because a company has a glossy website and glowing reviews from ‘high net worth’ investors does not mean it is genuine – fraudsters will go to great lengths to convince you they are not a scam.
- Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
If you think that you’ve been the victim of a crypto scam, you can report it online at https://www.actionfraud.police.uk