Scams are sadly rife, and fraudsters are stepping up their efforts to target Britons in a myriad of ways. NatWest shared the story of Hannah, a woman who was desperate for a bit more cash to fund a holiday after being unable to afford to leave the country for a while.
When using her social media one evening, an advert for a new cryptocurrency popped up and caught her attention.
While Hannah knew next to nothing about digital currency, her interest was piqued as the advert featured a well-known celebrity.
Trusting the advert was legitimate, and reeled in by the promise of high returns on minimal investments, she clicked through to the website.
The page was full of testimonials of success, showing people who had invested a small amount and who receive an almost immediate return on their money.
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Convinced, she filled out the form with her personal details, and soon received an email with clippings form newspapers and websites legitimising the crypto company.
The company said for an initial deposit of £100 she was guaranteed a return of £600. While it felt too good to be true, Hannah pressed on.
Hannah then received a phone call from a private number, and the caller claimed to be an investment broker offering easy and quick money.
He soon persuaded her to add an additional £250 in order to supposedly activate her account.
But soon Hannah was totally immersed in the investment opportunity, paying surcharges, fees and tax, while being bombarded with new investment opportunities.
She knew she was in too deep, but convincing emails and pushy phone calls added more pressure to her actions.
Within a few days, Hannah had parted with more than £1,000, but was relieved to receive an email telling her she would see her investment flourish in the next three days.
On the third day, Hannah attempted to log in and check her account, but her password was denied.
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Panicked, she searched for the website and through her emails for a contact number, but found nothing.
She replied to one of the emails she had received, but within seconds it bounced back, informing her the email address no longer existed.
Hannah, like many others, had fallen victim to a cryptocurrency scam – as the website and supposed investment opportunity was an elaborate ruse, designed by scammers to get people to part with their hard-earned cash.
Sadly, scammers are capitalising on the growing attention of investment and cryptocurrency by offering fake opportunities that don’t really exist.
NatWest warned just like in this scam, fraudsters often use fake endorsements and images of celebrities or public figures, without the person’s knowledge, to persuade unsuspecting Britons.
The bank said there are ways Britons can protect themselves from falling victim to this type of scam.
Firstly, before make any investments, people should understand everything completely, and make sure they are only using money they could afford to lose.
Similarly, seeking reputable, independent financial advice before committing to an investment is key.
Individuals should always have sole control of their cryptocurrency “wallet” and nobody else should have access.
NatWest added: “If you didn’t set the wallet up yourself or can’t access the money then this is likely to be a scam. You should stop making payments right away and get in touch with us.”
Finally, people should always be cautious of all unexpected calls, emails and text messages. They should never assume the correspondence is genuine, even if the person seems to know a lot about investments.
Those who think they have fallen victim to a scam should report the matter to their bank, and to Action Fraud or Police Scotland.