HSBC is warning customers to be extra vigilant of scams after a customer lost £300,000 in an investment scam. Over time, Melissa sold assets and made a total of 160 payments to a well-known influencer on social media.
David Callington, HSBC UK’s Head of Fraud, said promising high returns is a common method that fraudsters use to convince customers to invest more.
He added: “Cryptocurrency scams are on the rise with some victims losing a huge amount of money. The disturbing reality is that there are sophisticated criminals trying to get their hands on your hard-earned money, and they don’t care if you can’t afford it, if it is your life savings or even if it leaves you without a penny to your name.
“Scammers use every opportunity and every trick in the book to prey on people and persuade them to send money, often offering impossible rates of return with minimal risk, or even pretending to be celebrities or ‘influencers’. With the cost of living going up, and people looking to make their money stretch or find new ways to increase their income, scammers are circling.”
“The general rule is that if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Customers can check if a company is authorised via the FCA website – if it’s not regulated we wouldn’t recommend investing.”
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Red flags to watch out for
- If someone asks you to move money, but to give your bank another reason to ensure a ‘smoother’ transaction. Fraudsters know payments for investments may attract more scrutiny and will try to avoid it.
- Fraudsters may also ask you to download software in order to access your devices and move money without your knowledge.
- They may impersonate famous personalities on social media or messaging groups, to make their offer look legitimate.
- Some fraudsters may also ask for access to your cryptocurrency accounts, supposedly so they can trade on your behalf. But if you give them your log on details or let them have remote access, they can then move money out of your digital wallets.
- The most high-value cases even give a return in the short term, to convince the victims to invest more. Then, after they send larger payments, they suffer even greater losses.
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Top tips to keep your money safe
- Before making any investment, always research the company and check they’re FCA regulated.
- Never allow anyone to set up a cryptocurrency wallet, upload ID documents or manage investments for you.
- If in doubt, check with a family member or friend before you do anything.
- Report any suspicious activity. It builds awareness of fraud and helps everybody.