Police are warning people in West Norfolk to be vigilant if they are thinking of investing in cryptocurrency.
It follows a woman in the county losing £180,000 after completing an online form and being scammed out of money after giving criminals access to her laptop and phone.
She only realised what had happened when she contacted her bank to check a transfer had been completed and the bank were concerned she was the victim of a scam.
The victim, who does not want to be named, said: “My first reaction when I was told I had been scammed was feeling very frightened of my future, as the scammers left me with nothing. Life will never be the same and I am trying to come to terms that some people can be so ruthless. However, I will combat that feeling and go forth albeit taking a different route in life.”
Action Fraud have offered the following advice to help you protect yourself:
- Be wary of adverts online and on social media promising high returns on investments in cryptoassets or cryptoasset-related products and be suspicious if you are contacted out the blue about an investment opportunity. This could be via a cold-call, an e-mail or an approach on social media.
- Don’t be rushed into making an investment. No legitimate person or firm will pressure you into making an investment, or committing to something on the spot. Take time to do your research.
- Most firms advertising and selling investments in cryptoassets are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). This means that if you invest in certain cryptoassets you will not have access to the Financial Ombudsman Serviceor the Financial Services Compensation Schemeif things go wrong – so always check the FCA Register to make sure you’re dealing with an authorised firm and check the FCA Warning List of firms to avoid.
- Seek advice from trusted friends, family members or independent professional advice services before making a significant financial decision. Even genuine investment opportunities can be high risk.
- Use a financial advisor accredited by the Financial Conduct Authority. Paying for professional advice may seem like an unnecessary expense, but it will help prevent you from being scammed.
- Only use the telephone number and email address on the FCA Register, not the contact details the firm gives you and look out for subtle differences.
- Just because a company has a glossy website and glowing reviews from ‘high net worth’ investors does not mean it is genuine – fraudsters will go to great lengths to convince you they are not a scam.
- Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Protect yourself against fraudsters by taking the time to check that the investment is legitimate and following the precautions detailed above.
If you or a friend or family member feels they may have been a victim of investment fraud, you are not alone, please do not feel ashamed or embarrassed. You should contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud. You can do this by calling 0300 123 2040 or via the Action Fraud website here.