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Fraudsters Impersonate U.K. Financial Watchdog Promoting Bitcoin Scam

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is the latest target for Bitcoin fraudsters. According to a report by the FT Adviser, the con artists impersonated the FCA in a scam email to recipients, with bogus cryptocurrency rewards.

Issues of impersonating regulatory bodies or known personalities for bitcoin is not new in the cryptocurrency sector.

Bad actors capitalize on the popularity of the individuals/organization they are imitating to lure unsuspecting victims with juicy crypto rewards, consequently stealing funds from victims.

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FCA Issues Warning on Latest Bitcoin Scam

Per a report on Tuesday (July 23, 2019), bitcoin scammers sent out an email to a number of recipients, with logos imitating the FCA and Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), another U.K. regulator.

The scam email tried to lure recipients with the current bitcoin price surge and capitalizing on bullish bitcoin price prediction, saying:

“Guaranteed chance to earn. Bitcoin is still a long way off its peak price of $20,000, which it reached in 2017, but some cryptocurrency experts believe it could hit an even higher value by 2020.”

One of the recipients, Dominic Thomas, founder and Principal of London-based independent financial advisory firm, Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers, alerted the FCA via Twitter. The warning came after Thomas received the scam email multiple times over the weekend.

Following Thomas’s warning, the U.K regulator has since taken action, stating that the relevant team in the agency was looking into the email.

The FCA further gave some tell-tale signs for citizens/investors to be aware of and be on the alert. One of the warnings stated:

“Look for signs that the email, letter or phone call may not be from us, such as it listing a mobile or overseas contact phone number, an email address from a Hotmail or Gmail account, or a foreign PO Box number.”

Also, the agency would never ask for sensitive details such as bank account details or directly as for money. Another red flag individuals should watch out for, are grammatical errors. The scammers using the email to lure people to buy bitcoin from them, wrote “click her”, which is incorrect.

Furthermore, the FCA said that individuals should ignore suspicious messages and added that consumers should be wary of offers with exaggerated returns.

Crypto Con Artists Developing Different Fraudulent Schemes

This is not the first time, however, that crypto fraudsters are impersonating the FCA. In March 2019, the regulatory body. In a press release, warned investors about a fraudulent cryptocurrency startup based in Bulgaria.

According to the FCA, the Bulgarian company claimed to be authorized by the U.K. regulatory body and offered crypto services to unsuspecting victims.

Back in 2018, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) arrested two crypto fraudsters, who reportedly stole bitcoin from investors, impersonated a CFTC official, and forged CFTC documents.

Two American suspects were fined $180,000 each for also imitating the CFTC and stealing bitcoins from investors through fraudulent means.

Apart from imitating financial regulatory bodies, there have also been cases of criminals impersonating well-known personalities and celebrities. Tesla’s Elon Musk has also been a victim of impersonation on Twitter, with fraudsters using Musk’s image to promote crypto scams.

Crypto Spring Could See Even Greater Upsurge in Scam Cases

With bitcoin price currently experiencing a bull run after the 2018 crypto winter, more bad actors are bound to take advantage of the price surge to hunt for naive investors. Different regulators, from the U.S SEC and the CFTC,  to the FCA and other regulators globally, have warned individuals to wary of fraudulent schemes.

Going by bitcoin bullish predictions from experts within and without the crypto community for the year 2019, fraudsters would surely want to get their share of the price boom. Investors, in their best interests, should be vigilant and avoid schemes that promise hyperbolic returns.

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