Financial market regulators in the UK and Malta today warned that fraudsters are taking advantage of the coronavirus scare, and some of their scams are a direct threat to local investors.
On its part, the City watchdog has identified different scams infiltrating Britons’ email inboxes, including insurance policies, pensions transfers, and high-return investment opportunities, as well as for cryptocurrencies.
“Scammers are sophisticated, opportunistic and will try many things. They are also very likely to target the vulnerable. Beware of investments that appear to be too good be true. If you decide to invest in something offering a high return or in a cryptoasset, you should be prepared to lose all your money,” the FCA said.
In its latest report, the UK financial watchdog revealed a significant increase in the number of queries regarding cryptocurrencies, the majority of which relate to scams. This increase in the number of complaints/queries is another indication of the popularity of the industry despite the bear market conditions in the reportable period of 2018.
The Financial Conduct Authority also said that there are hackers in the background trying to take advantage of trending topics in the news, namely the coronavirus.
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Other scams to watch out
Typically, the fraudsters use special software to make the message appear genuine. They are sending emails and creating websites designed to trick people into clicking on malicious links disguised as helpful resources. Instead, they go to a false website that tries to steal sensitive information from those targeted, which can be used later without their knowledge to commit fraud.
The regulator previously alerted investors to other fake emails entitled ‘FCA business update,’ ‘Blacklisted FX firms,’ and ‘Overdue balance,’ which appeared to be sent from email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elsewhere, the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) also warned locals that the COVID-19 pandemic had become a bonanza for scammers of all stripes. The MFSA added that the new wave of fraudulent activities is exploiting the global concern about the deadly disease to make money and steal information.
The Mediterranean island’s watchdog further states: “The MFSA would like to remind consumers of financial services not to enter into any financial services transaction unless they have ascertained that the entity with whom the transaction is being made is authorized to provide such services by the MFSA or another reputable financial service regulator. A list of entities licensed by the MFSA can be viewed on the official website of the MFSA at https://www.mfsa.mt/financial-services-register/.”