"We're seeing more and more cases, where fraudsters use complex cryptocurrency jargon, high pressured sales tactics and fake celebrity endorsements," Santander says.
Many of the scams appear to follow a similar pattern.
Unsuspecting customers first see an ad on social media or Google that offers a crypto investment opportunity — and it may be endorsed by a celebrity.
They then share their details and are contacted by someone who offers high returns on a crypto investment with little or no risk. Heartbreakingly, this may include the use of high-pressure sale tactics — encouraging them to make a snap decision.
From here, they are asked to download specialist software. While the victim is told that this is to help them open crypto accounts, it’s actually a malicious tool that allows fraudsters to operate their computer remotely.
Once the victim has opened accounts at exchanges and deposited funds, the scammers take over access — freezing them out of the trading platforms.
How to Protect Yourself
She had been communicating with the scammer over Snapchat, and as soon as she became suspicious, this account was deleted.
When she tried to gain access to the crypto exchange accounts by contacting the trading platforms directly, she was told that they had no accounts under her name.
All of the funds she transferred had been spent in the space of an hour, meaning there was nothing that could be done to retrieve the funds.
Santander’s head of fraud control, Chris Ainsley, said:
To compound the problem, it’s increasingly common for celebrities to endorse cryptocurrencies — with NFL star Aaron Rodgers, A-list singer Mariah Carey and Kim Kardashian among those who have launched promotions on their official social media profiles recently.