Cryptocurrency has become a popular online asset that you can trade or exchange. It has gained popularity in recent times due to the potential for high returns. However, investing in cryptocurrency comes with high risks and volatility. It is important to note that cryptocurrency is not regulated, which means there is no protection for investors if things go wrong. Let’s take a look at Melissa’s story, a fictional HSBC customer who fell victim to a cryptocurrency scam.
Melissa had been banking with HSBC for 11 years and had never ventured into investing before. One day, she came across a well-known influencer on social media who portrayed himself as a successful businessman, particularly endorsing investment opportunities. Intrigued by his claims, Melissa decided to reach out to him online. The influencer convinced her to start investing in cryptocurrency. At this point, everything seemed normal and Melissa believed she was making a smart move, considering the influencer’s apparent success in promoting similar opportunities to others.
To begin her investment journey, the influencer instructed Melissa to open an account with a cryptocurrency trading platform in her own name. She then provided the influencer with access to this new account so that he could help manage her investments. Melissa made payments from her HSBC account to her new cryptocurrency account in order to fund her trading activities. Over the course of 13 months, the influencer regularly contacted Melissa with investment advice and provided information showing the growth in the value of her investments. This tactic is commonly used by fraudsters to maintain trust. During this time, Melissa made a total of 160 payments, amounting to more than £300,000. In order to fund these payments, Melissa even sold some of her assets, believing that she would make significant returns.
Promising high returns is a typical strategy employed by fraudsters to convince unsuspecting individuals to invest more. Our fraud detection mechanism flagged many of Melissa’s payments, prompting us to contact her to discuss the transactions. However, the fraudster had coached Melissa on how to respond to these calls, which is another common technique used by criminals to avoid arousing suspicion from banks. It wasn’t until Melissa spoke to a family member about her investments and they decided to validate the legitimacy of the influencer and her investments online, that she discovered the harsh truth. Multiple scam warnings and the realization that the influencer was not legitimate confirmed that Melissa had fallen victim to a cryptocurrency scam. Unfortunately, by the time Melissa reported the scam to us, the fraudster had already emptied her account, leaving her with no means to recover her lost funds.
To protect yourself from cryptocurrency investment scams, it is important to be aware of common strategies employed by fraudsters. They may contact you through phone calls or social media platforms, offering investments that may not even exist or promising unrealistically high returns. Beware of being urged to sign up with a cryptocurrency provider, with requests for your identity documents to open a trading account or online wallet. Some fraudsters go to the extent of setting up fake websites and portfolios that appear authentic. They may also request access to your account or ask you to download remote access software.
To avoid falling victim to these scams, make sure to understand how cryptocurrency investments work, as they differ from traditional investments. Stay in control of your investments and never allow anyone to set up a cryptocurrency wallet, upload your ID documents, or manage your investments on your behalf. Be cautious about sharing access to your accounts as fraudsters may use software to gain unauthorized access to your devices and move money without your knowledge. Familiarize yourself with common tricks used by fraudsters, such as asking you to transfer money and requesting that you mislead your bank about the purpose of the payment. They may also impersonate famous personalities on social media or messaging groups to make their offers appear legitimate. Lastly, do not succumb to pressure tactics, even if the initial investments show a positive return. Some fraudsters may try to convince you to invest larger amounts, only to cause even greater losses in the end. Stay vigilant and prioritize your financial security.