Crypto scams worth £1m reported to Santander by customers every month

As crypto prices rise, so do reported crypto scams

Santander bank high street branch, London - Photo:Shutterstock

Santander UK has said it receives around £1m ($1.36m) worth of crypto scams reported each month.

The company also said it has seen an increase in the value of these cases recently, which tend to involve fraudsters taking over a victim’s computer and freezing them out of their accounts.

Customers have stated they see adverts for crypto investment 'opportunities', or are introduced to them by other social media accounts and adverts that appear to have celebrity endorsements.

Customers then share their contact details with the fraudsters as they are offered “high returns” or maybe put under pressure to invest.

Customers are told to download software to support crypto accounts, which can give the fraudster access to the customer’s computer.

Once the victim opens a crypto account and deposits money in it, the fraudster can take over the account and freeze the customer out of it.

Santander advises people who have been affected by these scams should tell their bank immediately and if they have downloaded any software, they should turn it off immediately. The customer is advised to have their computer checked by a technician.    

“It’s so important to take the time to research where your money is going”

Chris Ainsley, head of fraud control at Santander UK, said: “We’re seeing more and more cases where fraudsters use complex cryptocurrency jargon, high pressured sales tactics and fake celebrity endorsements, along with the promise of significant rewards, to lull people into a false sense of security.

“Now more than ever, it’s so important to take the time to research where your money is going before you make a payment. If you don’t, you risk simply never seeing it again.”

Santander’s steps on how to avoid crypto scams

The bank offers six ways for customers to be more aware that they could be dealing with a scam.

A celebrity endorsement does not immediately mean the investment will be genuine.

Do not allow anyone else to set up a crypto wallet for you or upload your ID documents or manage investments on your behalf remotely.

Be “cautious” of any investment offers made on social media or over the phone. Research a company first before deciding to invest.

Do not be pressured into selling “with limited timescale”.

Use the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to look up if the company you are buying crypto from is a legitimate registered firm.

The FCA’s ScamSmart is an online tool which helps to identify if your investment is a scam.   

As crypto prices rise so do reports of crypto scams

Thomas Cattee, head of white-collar crime at Gherson Solicitors said:Crypto prices appear to be increasing again. However, reports on the increase of crypto fraud and scams have also been on the up. For example, the recent news that around £1 million-worth of cryptocurrency scams are being reported to Santander each month makes for shocking reading. This follows on from a recent worrying article by Action Fraud entitled “Cryptocurrency fraud leads to millions in losses so far this year.

“Perhaps reassuring is the FCA’s recently launched £11 million five-year campaign called InvestSmart, targeting inexperienced investors. This welcome and timely intervention sees the FCA’s stated aim to target individuals online and through social media and comes at a time when people are also spending increasing time online (partly due to the recent pandemic).

“So, what can individuals do to try and avoid such scams? Well to identify and avoid such crypto scams individuals would be advised to heed Action Fraud’s advice, including to be wary of online and social media adverts promising high returns, to check any firm against the FCA Register and the FCA warning list and, finally, the old adage that if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is! Further, individuals who fear that they have been the victim of a fraud or scam would be well advised to consider taking legal advice.”

Further reading: Five common crypto scams you need to know about

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