‘Celebrity-Endorsed’ UK Crypto Scams Could Double

Banco Santander is warning customers in the UK that celebrity-endorsed cryptocurrency scams are set to nearly double this year.

According to a announcement on the company’s website Tuesday, June 28, case volumes increased 61% in the first quarter from the previous three months, with the average value of scams jumping 65% year-over-year to reach £11,872 (about $14,500). Approximately £2 million (approximately $2.4 million) was lost to these schemes during this quarter.

“We are seeing a disturbing rise in ‘celebrity-endorsed’ cryptocurrency scams, where familiar faces are misused on social media to defraud people of often life-changing sums of money. “, said Chris AinsleySantander UK Fraud Risk Manager, in the announcement.

The scams begin when a customer sees a cryptocurrency ad featuring a celebrity, who appears to endorse that digital token, according to the ad. The customer clicks on a link and shares their details, then is contacted by a “salesperson” – who often uses high-pressure tactics – promising high returns.

The fraudster tells the customer to remotely download software to help them open crypto accounts, giving the scammer access to the customer’s computer. From there, they can freeze access and take over the customer’s account, according to the announcement.

The bank cautioned customers to keep in mind that celebrity endorsements may not always be genuine and cautioned them against letting others set up a cryptocurrency wallet, upload documents, etc. identity or manage investments on their behalf remotely.

Santander also recommended in the announcement that customers visit the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) website to determine if the company selling the cryptocurrency is a legitimate business.

Last week, the FCA announced plans to use the data to tackle online fraud faster. The FCA said it will invest heavily in its use of data in 2022/2023, including hiring a large number of professionals in artificial intelligence (AI), analytics and data science.

Read more: UK financial regulator to use AI and data analytics to tackle online scams faster

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