The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said on Tuesday that Brits lost approximately £27 million ($34.4 million) to foreign exchange and cryptocurrency-related scams in the 2018/2019 fiscal year.
According to the British regulator, authorities received 1,834 scam reports last year. That was almost a four-fold increase on the prior twelve month period.
The FCA did not reveal what the makeup of those scams was. That missing data is significant.
In its annual report, published earlier this month, the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) said that there had been a switch in scammers’ preferred asset class.
The French regulator noted that the number of crypto-related complaints skyrocketed in 2018. Conversely, there was a huge decline in the previously large number of forex-related scams.
Back in the UK, the FCA said that it believes the average scam victim lost approximately £14,600 ($18,600).
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The financial watchdog added that most scams worked by attracting customers through social media sites. Posing as millionaires, Instagram stars, and Twitter hacks will encourage people to get rich quick by trading through their affiliate sites.
“We’re warning the public to be suspicious of adverts which promise high returns from online trading platforms,” said Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight, FCA.
“Scammers can be very convincing so always do your own research into any firm you are considering investing with, to make sure that they are the real deal.”
To prevent more fraudulent activity from taking place, the FCA is going to be launching a new campaign called ScamSmart.
The campaign will be run across different social media platforms and in conjunction with Action Fraud – a division of the UK’s police force that works on tackling fraud.
“Action Fraud is pleased to be partnering with the FCA to raise awareness of online trading scams, and we hope it will help prevent more people falling victim,” said Pauline Smith, the national head of Action Fraud.