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Financial Conduct Authority Releases Warning About Unauthorised Firm

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Bitcoin investors have been advised against Interacting with the trading platform, PolarBTC.

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A warning has been issued by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regarding a ‘crypto, Forex (FX), and Contract for Differences (CFDs) trading platform’, PolarBTC.

The FCA is the Government backed regulatory body for the financial industry in the UK, responsible for regulating financial firms and services to ensure honesty and competitiveness in the market. As part of its responsibility to protect the financial industry, the FCA publishes a list of firms that it is concerned are working without their permission, to give consumers the best chance of ensuring the firm they are dealing with is authorised.

PolarBTC warning

In April 2023, the FCA released a warning about a relatively new-to-the-market platform, PolarBTC, detailing that it “may be providing financial services or products without [FCA] authorisation”.

In the warning, the FCA outlines that, should investors decide to deal with unauthorised firms – such as PolarBTC – then they will not be protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), an independent, free service set up to reimburse customers of financial firms that have gone out of business.

Individuals who invest with PolarBTC will also not have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), the independent, Government-backed body responsible for settling disputes between financial services (such as banks and investment firms) and their customers.

There are several red flags that would-be investors should look out for when considering any investment, and PolarBTC seems to display many of them. According to The Crypto Adviser, a crypto advice and coaching service site, while PolarBTC appears legitimate at first glance, the red flags begin to show after a bit of digging:

  • PolarBTC uses a PO Box as its registered address.
  • There are many online reviews for the site stating that it is a scam.
  • Despite claiming to have been established for several years, the domain name was only registered in 2022.
  • The website contains many spelling and grammatical mistakes, which seems at odds with the claim that it is a UK-based company.
  • PolarBTC has no social media presence at all.
  • Its only credentials come from the ‘Crypto Conduct Authority’, which also appears to be a fake site designed to fool investors, with many of the same red flags.

Crypto investors should always do their research and due diligence before committing any money to a crypto platform; as well as keeping an eye on the FCA warning list, there are also a number of top tips that can help investors know what to look out for.

Commenting on the recent FCA warning, Sarah Spruce, Head of the Cryptocurrency Scam team at TLW solicitors, said:

“Not unsurprisingly, Cryptocurrency scams are rising at about the same rate as the popularity of crypto itself, so there is no need to be embarrassed or ashamed if you do fall victim to the fraudsters. The most important thing to understand is what happens next and how to report the scam to your bank and the police, and where to go to find out if you can claim a refund for your losses. This isn’t something you need to deal with on your own – we’re here to help.”

If you, a friend, family member or colleague, have lost money to a cryptocurrency investment APP scam, get in touch to see if we can help.

TLW Solicitors has many years of experience dealing with FOS and FSCS cases and will deal with your claim with efficiency and attention to detail. We understand the timescales, processes and intricacies involved, and our sophisticated case management systems mean you will always be kept up to date with the progress of your claim.

We work on a no-win, no-fee basis, so contact us for a no-obligation, confidential conversation about your case. Call us on 0800 169 5925, email info@tlwsolicitors.co.uk or fill out one of the forms below.

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