Cyber criminals managed to defraud British people out of £27 million in the last financial year alone, with promises to get rich quick on foreign currency trading and cryptocurrency investments.
Action Fraud and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) revealed the figures as it warned Brits to avoid any schemes which may look too good to be true.
Most cases, the authorities claimed, came from posts on social media promising a way for users to make good money fast. The posts offered huge returns from investment in cryptocurrency, as well as potential income from foreign currency trading. To make it look more authentic, the posts came with celebrity endorsements (that were, of course, fake) as well as images of expensive and sought-after items, such as watches and luxury cars.
To make the scheme seem more realistic, scammers would initially lead those who’d signed up to believe that their first investment had made a tidy profit. This would gain their trust and encourage them to part with more money. This was the masterstroke, as it ensured the smaller sums people put up originally – before they fully trusted the scheme – would shortly be followed by much larger amounts.
The scam worked, with a total of £27 million being lost in just 12 months – with the average victim being duped out of more than £14,000.
Action Fraud noted that reports of this kind of cyber crime had tripled over the past year. Whilst in 2017/18 the centre received just 530 reports of this nature, the figure had reached 1,834 by the end of 2018/19.
These scams have been so successful that the FCA has announced plans to run a series of adverts, highlighting this exact danger. The hope is to educate people so they won’t get scammed in future.
“Scammers can be very convincing”, the FCA’s Mark Steward told Sky News, “so always do your own research into any firm you are considering investing with, to make sure that they are the real deal.”