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Cryptocurrency scams on the rise with victims conned out of up to €50,000

FraudSMART warns of ‘get rich quick’ investment scams as fraudsters take advantage of hype around digital currencies.

20th May 2021 – FraudSMART, the fraud awareness initiative led by Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI), is today warning consumers of the rise in cryptocurrency investment scams with victims being conned out of sums of money up to €50,000.

Highlighting the prominence of these scams and risks involved, Brian Hayes, Chief Executive, BPFI said: “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.

Member 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. 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.

Victims tend to be cold called or lured by pop-up ads on social media which can often be accompanied by fake celebrity endorsements. The social media ads are linked to cloned websites which look genuine and offer big return on cryptocurrency investments which turn out to be bogus. Individuals actively seeking out alternative investment products are also being caught out as the fraudsters are very convincing and in all cases will create a sense of urgency and pressure not to lose out on a great deal.

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. We are urging all consumers to take heed of our warning today and to seek professional advise before making investment decisions.” Mr Hayes concluded.

Red flags to look 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

Checklist in order to avoid cryptocurrency scams:

  • Stop and think: Does this opportunity sound too good to be true? If so it probably is.
  • Research thoroughly: Check the individual and firm for qualifications, credentials, reputation and history.
  • Verify the Information: Check all information with a trusted 3rd party such a legal/financial professional and consult family and close friends.
  • Take your time: Important to note that there are very few legitimate investment opportunities that require you to hand over or transfer money immediately.

Further information on investment scams and other fraud types can be found on the FraudSMART website


Contact: Jillian Heffernan, Head of Communications, 087 9016880

About FraudSMART: FraudSMART is a fraud awareness initiative developed by Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) in conjunction with the following member banks, Allied Irish Bank plc, Bank of Ireland, KBC Bank Ireland, PermanentTSB, Ulster Bank, An Post Money and Barclays. The programme aims to raise consumer and business awareness of the latest financial fraud activity and trends and provide simple and impartial advice on how best they can protect themselves and their resources.

About BPFI: Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) represents the banking, payments and fintech sector in Ireland.  Together with its affiliates, the Federation of International Banks in Ireland, and the Fintech & Payments Association of Ireland, BPFI has 100 member institutions and associates, including licensed domestic and foreign banks and institutions operating in the financial marketplace here.