UK in Midst of $200m Crypto Fraud Epidemic

Victims of cryptocurrency fraud have already lost over £146m ($200m) so far this year, a double-digit increase over 2020 figures, according to reports.

Bloomberg received confirmation from the City of London police that losses in the year-to-date had surged 30% over the figure for the whole of 2020.

The police force, which runs the UK’s national fraud and cybercrime reporting center, pointed to 7118 reports in 2021 so far, with over half of the victims aged 18-45-years-old.

“Reports of cryptocurrency fraud have increased significantly over the past few years,” temporary detective chief inspector, Craig Mullish, is quoted as saying. “Being online more means criminals have a greater opportunity to approach unsuspecting victims with fraudulent investment opportunities.”

According to the FBI, over $246m was lost to cybercrime involving virtual currency last year, although these incidents were not further broken down by crime type.

However, Infosecurity has reported on countless cases in the past few months alone.

These include the founder of two cryptocurrency hedge funds pleading guilty to defrauding investors out of $100m in a scheme that roped in actor Steven Seagal to promote one of the fake companies.

In fact, fake celebrity endorsements are a particularly popular tactic among crypto fraudsters. The City of London police claimed that around 79% of all complaints that cite these were tied to cryptocurrency.

There’s also a growing threat from scam apps designed to steal users’ cryptocurrency funds.

In July, researchers found 170 Android apps that scammed tens of thousands of cryptocurrency enthusiasts into paying for non-existent services and losing $350,000 in the process.

Last week, Sophos researchers revealed “CryptoRom,” a variation on the popular romance scams of old in which lonely hearts are approached via their dating site profile before being tricked into investing crypto funds via fake trading applications. It’s apparently netted criminals $1.4m so far.

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