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BitWest Group:
Financial Conduct Authority Warning About Unauthorised Firm

Cryptocurrency scams

City watchdog, the FCA has warned investors against interacting with
Crypto and Forex trading platform, BitWest Group.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is the regulatory body responsible for financial firms and markets in the UK, and it regularly publishes a list of firms that are operating without its authorisation. Anyone considering investing with a firm they have never dealt with should always check the FCA warning list as a first port of call.

FCA warning

A warning published on the FCA website relating to online trading brokerage BitWest, states: “This firm may be providing financial services or products without our authorisation. You should avoid dealing with this firm and beware of potential scams.”

 The warning emphasises that the FCA does not authorise the firm, which “is targeting people in the UK”.

As BitWest is not regulated by the FCA, this means investors who lose money as a result of interacting with the firm will not be able to take a claim to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), the UK body responsible for resolving disputes between financial firms and their customers. BitWest Group investors will also not be protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), a service set up to protect consumers when regulated financial services firms fail.

The main red flag for BitWest group that investors should be aware of is the fact that it is not FCA regulated, meaning investments are not protected or safeguarded at all, but there are several other warning signs that should put off would-be investors and alert them to the fact that their investment may be a scam, including:

  • The firm’s website is not operational, meaning there is no way to check or verify any contact details or other important information.
  • There is no clear record of the owner’s name.
  • The firm was set up in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) but does not have valid regulation there, or in any other territories it operates in.

Cryptocurrency 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. We also recently shared a number of top tips that can help investors know what to look out for when looking for a cryptocurrency scam.

While investors cannot raise a FOS claim against BitWest itself because of its lack of regulation with the FCA, there may be scope to make a claim against your bank if it failed in its duty to recognise and prevent the scam from taking place.

When a scam or fraud victim willingly transfers money out of their own bank account to a scammer – for reasons they believe are legitimate, such as an investment – this is known as Authorised Push Payment (APP) Fraud. It is a common tactic used by scammers as, with faster payment systems and same-day transfers, the money is paid instantaneously to the scammer, who can then move it swiftly, making it very difficult to recover.

Banks in the UK have a responsibility to their customers to detect and prevent scams and fraud on their accounts, so unusual activity, such as interacting with an unregulated crypto firm or suddenly transferring large amounts of money to a new payee, should raise alarm bells.

If you believe that your bank did not do enough to detect or prevent a scam on your account, TLW Solicitors can help you raise a complaint with your bank and, if needs be, with FOS to secure compensation.

Sarah Spruce, Head of the Cryptocurrency Scam team at TLW solicitors, can help if you have fallen victim to a crypto scam. She commented:

“It is so important to do your research before proceeding with any investment, even if you think it is watertight, and the FCA warning list would be the first place to start. Unfortunately, we are seeing a lot of clients who have fallen victim to unregulated crypto investments, such as BitWest. There is no need to feel ashamed or embarrassed about being targeted!

 If you have lost money to an unregulated firm like BitWest Group, it is vital to understand what your next steps are, how to report the scam to your bank and Action Fraud, the National Fraud and Cyber Crime Reporting Centre, and where to go to find out if you can claim compensation from your bank or FOS. My team can help.”

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

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

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.

Getting advice as soon as possible is essential as strict time limits can apply.
Minimum case values apply.

Meet Our Team

Meet Sarah, who heads up our experienced Cryptocurrency Fraud Claims team.

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