- Action Fraud is warning the public about the growing problem of criminals using the reputation of prominent people in cryptocurrency scams.
- Deborah Meaden from the BBC’s Dragons' Den and Martin Lewis, the founder of MoneySavingExpert.com have spoken out after fraudulent cryptocurrency investment websites falsely claim to be endorsed by them.
- In March alone, Action Fraud received 21 reports of this kind, with a total reported loss of more than £34,000 to victims.
Fraudulent websites claiming to offer cryptocurrency investments are using images and fabricating recommendations from prominent individuals such as Deborah Meaden from the BBC’s Dragons' Den and Martin Lewis, the founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, without their consent.
The adverts are placed on social media and other websites and use images of these individuals to promote fraudulent cryptocurrency investments. Clicking on the advert takes you to the full article where their images are presented along with fake quotes recommending that you make investments with the fraudulent company in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.
Alternatively, clicking on the advert will take you to a page where you are required to input your contact details. The suspect company will then phone you and persuade you to invest.
Director of Action Fraud, Pauline Smith, said:
“Opportunistic fraudsters are taking advantage of this market, offering investments in cryptocurrencies and doing everything they can to defraud unsuspecting victims.
“Anyone who invests in cryptocurrencies should thoroughly research the company they are choosing to invest with.
“If you think you have been the victim of this type of fraud, contact Action Fraud.”
Dragons' Den investor, Deborah Meaden, said:
“With the growing sophistication of online fraud, it becomes increasingly important to carry out checks before parting with cash online. A quick Google search will often reveal the truth and all online advertising should be read set against the premise of “If it looks too good to be true then it probably is!”
Founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, Martin Lewis, said:
“I find it sickening that these people are leeching off the trust I’ve spent years building in order to target vulnerable people and attempt to steal their money.
“Let me be very plain. I never do adverts. If you see my picture in an advert on Facebook or anywhere else recommending products – be it Bitcoin, binary trading, PPI firms or anything else – they are nothing to do with me. Be very, very careful.”
How can you protect yourself?
- Don’t assume it’s authentic – professional-looking websites, adverts or social media posts don’t indicate that an investment opportunity is genuine. Criminals can exploit the names of well-known brands or individuals to make their scams appear legitimate.
- Don’t be rushed or pressured into making a decision – a genuine bank or financial organisation won’t force you to make a financial transaction on the spot. Always be wary if you’re pressured to invest quickly or promised returns that sound too good to be true.
- Stay in control – avoid unsolicited investment offers, especially those over cold calls. If you’re thinking about making an investment, get impartial advice from an independent financial adviser – never use an adviser from the company that contacted you, as this may be part of the scam.
- Visit Take Five and Cyber Aware for more information about how to protect yourself online.
- Every Report Matters – If you have been a victim of fraud or cyber crime, report it to us.