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Police Warn of Crypto Remote Access Scams Costing Victims Tens of Thousands

APP Fraud

Nottinghamshire Police has had multiple reports of scammers targeting victims with social media advertisements to harvest their data and encourage them to invest in bogus crypto schemes.

Futuristic stock exchange scene with crypto currency icons and smartphone  (3D illustration)

The cost-of-living crisis has seen a rise in people looking for ways to maximise their income in the face of rising bills. In 2022, 29% of UK adults who had been targeted by scammers said they were taken in by ‘get rich quick’ schemes such as fake investments or financial scams.

Nottingham Police recently released a warning after investigating multiple reports of investment scams using remote access software, which has cost some victims more than £100,000.

Nottingham Police has seen an increase in cryptocurrency investment scams starting on social media. In these scams, perpetrators convince victims to allow them access to their devices using remote access software. Some victims have also been encouraged to apply for bank loans to keep investing, and they are now on the hook to pay these funds back.

Many of the cases reported to the police started when the victims clicked on an advertisement on social media platforms, such as YouTube, which instructed them to input their contact information. Scammers claiming to be investment brokers then used these details to contact the victims with promises of ‘lucrative investment opportunities’.

The victims were then convinced to download remote access software to their devices, which allowed the callers to “set everything up”. Remote access software is a technology which enables the user to control a device, such as a laptop, tablet, or smartphone, without having physical access to it. The software is often legitimately used by IT services and tech support providers but is increasingly exploited by scammers.

Examples of remote access providers include:

  • LogMeIn
  • TeamViewer
  • GoToAssist

Once the scammers ‘set up’ the victims’ Bitcoin investment account, the funds were transferred out of the account, and the victims were directed to a bogus site that showed impressive returns that did not really exist. The victims were encouraged to take out bank loans to keep investing and seeing the same ‘high returns,’ which, unfortunately, made their final loss even greater.

In addition to his personal investments, one victim took out almost £50,000 in loans to continue investing, which he is now responsible for repaying. Two other victims lost over £100,000.

Nottinghamshire Police’s Kirsty Jackson, a member of the force’s Cyber Protect team, urged vigilance:

“Investment fraud can destroy individuals, businesses and families. Always be on your guard and take time to do your research thoroughly before deciding to invest any amount of your money. It is therefore extremely important that people only grant remote access to their mobile devices, phones, laptops and computers if they are asked by someone they know and trust, such as a friend or family member. You should never grant remote access to your device as a result of an unsolicited call, browser pop-up, advert, link or text message. The consequences of doing so can be devastating. These scams have had a profound impact on their victims as the banks in some cases have insisted on the loans being paid back.”

Unfortunately for would-be investors, the rising popularity of cryptocurrency has led to a surge in cryptocurrency-related scams and illegal trading.

Fraudsters often use seemingly legitimate investment companies to lure in their victims, using a variety of techniques, including:

  • Claiming to be associated with well-known celebrities or public figures (often this is not the case).
  • Promising high returns with little or no risk.
  • Running social media adverts with impressive claims about ‘quick wins’.

As the wider cryptocurrency industry remains largely unregulated for now, it is doubtful that your money would be protected by City watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), if you fell victim to a scam.

However, if your money was transferred from a UK bank, you may be able to take action with the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), an independent government backed body responsible for investigating disputes between financial institutions and consumers, and the TLW Solicitors cryptocurrency team are on hand to help.

Banks have been quick to deny any wrongdoing in cases like those reported in Nottinghamshire, but there have been an increasing number of decisions by FOS in favour of the customer, not the bank. These customers have been the victim of what is known as Authorised Push Payment (APP) fraud.

APP fraud occurs when you instruct your bank to transfer money to another person’s bank account, believing the company is genuine, not a clever fraudster scamming you. Once the authorised payment is made, the scammers usually transfer your money into another account, often overseas, the details of which you never know, so the money is effectively lost.

We regularly cover cryptocurrency scams in our blog to help you stay up to date with the latest trends and legislation and share tips on keeping yourself and your money safe.

If you are considering investing in cryptocurrency, it is essential that you understand how to identify a legitimate scheme and avoid falling victim to scammers.

Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself from crypto fraud:

  • Be wary of anyone who contacts you out of the blue about investments, whether it is via social media, email, phone, or messaging apps.
  • Seek professional financial advice before making any investment decisions. Take your time and carefully consider your actions.
  • Never give someone you have never met access to your bank account, crypto wallet, or devices.

Also, be aware that fraudsters will not always leave you alone just because you have identified and reported a scam. In some cases, scammers may try to contact you again with offers of “safer investments” or the chance to recoup your losses as a ploy to access even more of your money.

Sarah Spruce, Head of the APP scams team at TLW Solicitors, commented:

“These cases highlight just how important it is to be vigilant whenever considering an investment opportunity. Be wary of anyone who calls you out of the blue about an investment, and never let anyone – other than a friend, family member, or trusted and vetted service provider – remotely access your devices, even if you believe they are helping you out.

“If you have lost money to a cryptocurrency remote access scam and your bank is refusing to refund, speak to a member of my team about your options today.”

Our APP Fraud team has extensive experience in financial claims, including taking claims to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). We understand the process involved, the time limits that can apply and the legal arguments and defences the banks may raise.

We offer a free, no-obligation assessment of your case, and if we do take on your scam refund case, we operate on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis, meaning you do not pay us anything if your claim is unsuccessful.

Contact us on 0800 169 5925, email info@tlwsolicitors.co.uk or complete one of the forms below.

It is important to get advice as soon as possible as strict time limits can apply.

Minimum case values may apply.

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.

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