The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Action Fraud are warning the public to be wary of investment scams carried out via bogus online trading platforms. This warning comes as cryptoassests (crypto) and forex investment scams reports more than tripled last year to over 1,800. Fraudsters promise high returns from investments in crypto and forex, with victims losing over £27 million in total in 2018/19.
How the scams work
Fraudsters often use social media to promote their ‘get rich quick’ online trading platforms. Posts often use fake celebrity endorsements and images of luxury items like expensive watches and cars. These then link to professional-looking websites where consumers are persuaded to invest.
Investors will often be led to believe that their first investment has successfully made a profit. The fraudster will then contact the victim to invest more money or introduce friends and family with the false promise of greater profits. However, eventually the returns stop, the customer account is closed and the scammer disappears with no further contact.
Action Fraud reports show that on average, victims were each scammed out of £14,600 from forex and crypto scams in 2018/19.
As part of the FCA’s ScamSmart campaign the FCA will be running advertising to raise awareness of online trading scams. Running on social media, the ScamSmart adverts aim to make consumers more sceptical of ‘get rich quick’ trading scams promoted online.
Supported by the City of London Police, the FCA’s ScamSmart campaign encourages those considering an investment to check its dedicated website for tips on how to avoid investment fraud.
Director of Action Fraud, Pauline Smith, said:
‘These figures are startling and provide a stark warning that people need to be wary of fake investments on online trading platforms. It’s vital that people carry out the necessary checks to ensure that an investment they’re considering is legitimate.
‘Action Fraud is pleased to be partnering with the FCA to raise awareness of online trading scams, and we hope it will help prevent more people falling victim. Remember, if you think you have been a victim, contact Action Fraud.’
Mark Steward, Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight, FCA, said:
‘We’re warning the public to be suspicious of adverts which promise high returns from online trading platforms.
‘Scammers can be very convincing so always do your own research into any firm you are considering investing with, to make sure that they are the real deal. Before investing online find out how to protect yourself from scams by visiting the ScamSmart website, and if in any doubt – don’t invest.’
Stay safe when scrolling
- 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.
- Stay in control – 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.
- Make the right checks – Firms providing regulated financial services must be authorised by the FCA. You can check whether they are authorised on the Financial Services Register. Use the contact details on the Register, not the details the firm gives you, to avoid ‘clones’.
- Every report matters – If you have been a victim of fraud or cyber crime, report it to Action Fraud.
Notes to editors
- Cryptoassets is a broad term covering many different types of products. The most popular forms of cryptoassets include tokens like ‘Bitcoin’ and ‘Litecoin’. The FCA call these ‘exchange tokens’ but they are sometimes referred to as ‘cryptocurrencies’, ‘cryptocoins’, or ‘payment tokens’. Find out more about our approach to cryptoassets.
- Action Fraud data for forex and crypto investment scams. All losses have been taken from the field ‘amount given’ and ‘incurred losses’ on the Action Fraud reports which is not quality assured, therefore may contain errors when input by the victim. The data in the reports can be updated at any time by the victim on the live AF reporting tool, therefore losses for fraud can change.
- No of reports = 530 (FY 2017/18)
- No of reports = 1,834 (FY 2018/19)
- Average loss = £14,600 (FY 2018/19)
- Total loss = £27,366,127 (FY 2018/19)
- Find out more information about the FCA.