Lloyds Bank has issued a warning about cryptocurrency investment scams, with victims losing nearly £11,000 on average.
The bank has recorded a 23 per cent rise in reports of crypto investment scams by customers in its banking group – which includes Lloyds Bank, Halifax and Bank of Scotland – between January and September 2023, compared with the equivalent period last year.
It’s found scam victims are losing £10,741 on average, up from £7,010 last year.
Young adults are particularly at risk, with Lloyds finding the most common age range for crypto scam victims being 25 to 34 years old.
Lloyds Bank research has found scam victims are losing £10,741 on average, up from £7,010 last year
Many of the scams in the analysis originated on social media.
Would-be cryptocurrency investors are typically making an average of three payments under the assumption they are investing in the digital currency before they realise they have been duped by fraudsters, Lloyds said.
The research found it takes around 100 days from the date of the first transaction before the victim reports it to their bank.
In this form of scam, fraudsters tend to pose as investment managers, promising that any payments made by the victim will be invested on their behalf.
These criminals often promise huge returns, but actually, in some forms of the scam, the money doesn’t ever get invested.
To try to keep the victim convinced, the criminals will be shown a fake investment account, suggesting the funds are already making a profit.
Scammers also sometimes transfer a small amount of money back into the victim’s bank account in a bid to encourage them to “invest” more.
There’s often not a genuine crypto holding at all and the fraudster simply disappears.
In other cases, there is an actual investment account held in the victim’s name and registered with a legitimate platform.
However, once funds have been deposited, victims have been tricked into handing over their account login details or passing control of their digital wallet over to the criminal.
Lloyds Bank's fraud prevention director warned that if something goes wrong, crypto scam victims are 'unlikely' to get their money back
Liz Ziegler, fraud prevention director at Lloyds Bank, said: “Crypto is a highly risky asset class and remains largely unregulated, which makes it an attractive area for fraudsters to exploit. If something goes wrong, you’re unlikely to get your money back.”
Lloyds shared some top tips for reducing the risk of falling victim to crypto fraudsters:
“Criminals often put adverts for scam crypto investments on social media. They can also send offers by direct message. They will promise returns that you cannot get elsewhere or make claims about ‘guaranteed’ profits. If you are contacted out of the blue about an investment, it is likely a scam.
“Fraudsters can easily set up fake companies, social media profiles and websites to clone real firms. Use the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) website to find genuine contact details for a company and check for warnings about fake firms. Always do your own research or seek professional financial advice.
“Never share the log in details for your investment account or your private cryptocurrency keys with anyone else. A legitimate firm would never ask you for this. Remember, if you transfer funds to another account that is not in your name, you have lost control of your money.
“Fraudsters may ask you to pay an account in a different name to the company you are meant to invest with. If the names do not match, it is a sign of a scam. Paying by card (rather than a bank transfer) may offer you more protection if something goes wrong.”