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RAF Veteran Victim of Cryptocurrency Investment Scam

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Graeme Stagg fell victim to cryptocurrency
investment scammers and lost nearly £800,000.

Having been in the RAF for over 22 years, widower Graeme Stagg was looking forward to enjoying his retirement. Keen to make the most of his investments, he carried out online research and found a company called NCapital that specialised in cryptocurrency investments.

After making an initial, low risk investment of £50, he was persuaded to invest more and more, on the basis that the financial returns would be higher the more he put in. The online scammers eventually manipulated him into selling his home leading to a loss of nearly £800,000. By the time Mr Stagg had realised he’d been the victim of a sophisticated cryptocurrency investment scam, it was too late – the company disappeared and he heard nothing more from the employees he was dealing with.

As reported by the BBC, the cryptocurrency investment fraud is now being investigated by the police. In addition, a complaint was made to the banks from where payments were transferred to the scammers, Santander and Barclays, on the basis that they should have done more to protect Mr Stagg’s money. Santander are reviewing the circumstances of the case. Barclays have refused to accept any responsibility, leaving Mr Stagg to take his complaint to Government backed watchdog, the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) that deals with disputes between financial institutions and their customers.

Cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin or Ethereum, is increasingly being used in transactions across the world. Seeing this opportunity, scammers have used promises of financial ‘quick wins’ to persuade would-be investors to transfer money to build cryptocurrency portfolios. Many people see cryptocurrency as a new and exciting investment, hoping for large and quick financial gains, but it is not without considerable risk, given that many of the firms involved are unregulated.

Authorised Push Payment (APP) fraud, or bank transfer fraud, is where the scammer gains the victim’s trust through often online marketing techniques and manipulation. Usually starting with a small, low risk investment, the victim is persuaded to send money from their bank account. This then quickly escalates to more regular and higher payments.

As the fraud victim believes the transfer is genuine and legitimate, the money is often lost before any alarm bells ring and the victim may be too embarrassed to do anything about it. These payments are usually made abroad, often making it impossible to trace or recover what has been lost.

Urgently contact the police and also your bank if you think that you may have been scammed. You can also report any suspected scamming activity to Action Fraud, the National Fraud and Cyber Crime Reporting Centre.

There may be a criminal investigation by the police if you have lost money as a result of the fraud. If a criminal prosecution is successful, the court can order compensation. But this is not always possible, particularly if the fraudster is overseas or has no assets with which to pay any compensation.

In addition to criminal proceedings, you may have the basis of a complaint and claim against your bank if you feel that they did not do enough to protect your account.

Commenting on Mr Stagg’s case, Head of professional negligence at TLW Solicitors, Sarah Spruce, said:

APP fraud has been made much easier for cybercriminals by the increased use of real-time payment schemes, which means once money has been transferred out of an account, there is no going back once the victim realises they have been defrauded. We are also seeing an increasing number of cryptocurrency related scams where victims are drawn in by the lure of quick financial wins. Scammers purporting to be Cryptocurrency brokers and investment advisers use sophisticated ways of manipulating people like Mr Stagg. The banks know this and should have processes in place to protect their customers’ money.

APP scam victims are often too embarrassed or ashamed to admit that they have been defrauded, so it is important to stay vigilant, especially with those who are vulnerable and more susceptible to being scammed, for example the elderly or financially naive, such as young adults and students.”

Where there is a dispute between a bank and a customer who has lost out to a scam, a complaint can be made to the Financial Ombudsman Service. FOS will examine the circumstances of the scam and the bank’s response, given that banks will be more familiar with the types of fraud than the customer.

The specialist team at TLW Solicitors has many years of experience in successfully dealing with complaints to FOS, even where they have initially been rejected. We understand the time limits to be followed, the information needed and claims and appeals processes.

If you, a friend or a loved one has been conned into making payments to cryptocurrency investment fraudsters, then please get in touch with our specialist team for a confidential, no-obligation discussion.

You can call us on 0800 169 5925, email info@tlwsolicitors.co.uk or complete the enquiry form.

Time limits can apply and so anyone wishing to bring a claim should do so without delay.

Meet Our team

Meet Sarah, who heads up our experienced Authorised Push Payment Fraud Claims team.

Sarah and her colleagues are on hand to help with your claim.

APP fraud has been made much easier for cybercriminals by the increased use of real-time payment schemes, which means once money has been transferred out of an account, there is no going back once the victim realises they have been defrauded.”

Sarah Spruce