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Warning over 'get rich quick' scams involving cryptocurrencies

People are being conned out of up to €50k.

CONSUMERS HAVE BEEN urged to beware of so-called ‘get rick quick’ schemes involving cryptocurrency after a large number of people were conned out of significant amounts of money.

FraudSMART, the fraud awareness initiative led by Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI), has warned of the rise in cryptocurrency investment scams with victims being conned out of sums of money up to €50,000.

In many cases, potential victims are lured to the trade by cold callers or internet pop-up ads. 

The BPFI’s chief executive, Brian Hayes, said there are legitimate trading firms out there but that this market has allowed scammers to clone their operations.

“There is currently a lot of hype around the benefits of investing and trading in digital currencies which has prompted much advertising by legitimate investment companies looking for new customers.

“However, this has provided the perfect opportunity for fraudsters who are creating bogus companies offering fake ‘get rich quick’ crypto investment opportunities and promising big returns for little investment and effort.”

The BPFI released the following list of red flags to watch out for: 

  • You are cold called, i.e., you receive an unexpected telephone call/e-mail/social media message about a great investment opportunity
  • You are rushed and pressured into making a decision there and then, with no opportunity or time to consider the investment opportunity.
  • There is a promise of a quick and profitable return on the investment with little or no risk

The BPFI said banks are reporting a large increase in digital currency scams in the last 12 months and we are aware of cases where customers have been conned out of as much as €50,000.

In many cases this money can be people’s life savings the loss of which can have devastating effects, the BPFI added. 

“However, we are also aware of cases where customers are seeking to take out loans for these investment scams.

“Traditionally investment type scams are targeted at those over 55 who have retirement savings, however our members are now seeing an increase in cases among those in their 20s who have higher levels of disposable incomes due to the current pandemic,” Hayes added.

Hayes urged consumers to remain vigilant and not to part with their cash until they know they are dealing with a reputable company.

“Criminals will go to great lengths to persuade you they are knowledgeable and professional, offering you big returns for little investment and effort. But remember, if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” he said.

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