Inside money, markets, and big tech

Bitcoin scammers swindled UK investors out of $19M last year

That's £41,000 a day

Bitcoin UK

The UK’s national fraud helpline, Action Fraud, has found that in the 12 months leading up to March 19, 2019, investors in the state lost over £15 million ($19 million) to Bitcoin BTC related scams.

More than 1,200 victims lost a total of £15,248,130 ($19 million), Which? reports. That’s over £41,000 ($53,000) per day lost to scammers, enough to buy well specced BMW 3 Series.

In some cases victims were hit by a double con. After being scammed for a first time, victims would be targeted by secondary scammers making false claims they could get back the victim’s lost funds for a fee.

In one case, a woman was scammed by a Facebook ad featuring an image of celebrity entrepreneur Deborah Meaden – trend Hard Fork covered back in November last year.

Deborah meaden, scam, twitter, denial, bitcoin
Credit: Which? magazine

After calling the company, the woman was duped and invested £300 ($400). “What’s the worst that could happen?” she thought. The following day she found her bank account had been debited over £8,000 ($10,000).

Indeed, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) had already warned of the company she “invested” in, listing it as unregulated and a potential scam. Luckily, after raising the issue with Which? Money Helpline, the woman was able to get back all of her lost funds.

It’s not entirely surprising that UK investors have been caught short by Bitcoin scams.

Earlier this year, the FCA released research which highlighted that most UK-based cryptocurrency investors don’t actually understand what they are investing in.

For example, Bulgarian scammers falsely claimed to be registered with the FCA to dupe victims. In any case, it’s always worth cross-referencing investment opportunities by checking the FCA’s list of regulated companies.

Did you know? Hard Fork has its own stage at TNW2019, our tech conference in Amsterdam. Check it out.

Published March 28, 2019 — 10:22 UTC