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Scots lose £120,000 to cryptocurrency scams in three months

Advice Direct Scotland urged vigilance on social media platforms like Facebook, the recently rebranded Twitter X, and the new Threads app amid a surge in online fraud.

The charity has seen cryptocurrency scam complaints double in the first quarter of this year.

Between January and March, 18 Scots sought assistance from Advice Direct Scotland, losing more than £120,000 to such fraud.

This marked a twofold increase in both the number of cases and the total value compared to the previous quarter.

The true scale of the problem is likely to be worse than indicated, as the figures do not account for unreported cases or those directly reported to the police.

Criminals often employ social media ads featuring fake celebrity endorsements to entice people into investing in crypto assets, using aggressive tactics and promising unrealistic returns.

Advice Direct Scotland stressed the importance of understanding your investments and conducting thorough research.

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They said consumers should always check if a company is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority, and also warned people to be wary of unexpected contacts, high-pressure tactics, and promises of unrealistically good returns, and not assume something is legitimate simply because it has a professional-looking website or social media posts.

One of those targeted included an Aberdeen man who was scammed out of about £10,000.

The scammers promised him a £90,000 return within a year and convinced him to make regular payments using gift cards. They also claimed that an extra fee would ensure the £90,000 delivery to his door through a courier.

After blocking all contact and failing to deliver the money, he sought help. Unfortunately, since payments were made using difficult-to-trace gift cards, options for recovery were limited.

However, he is currently exploring the possibility of refunds through the debit and credit card companies used for some of the purchases.

Advice Direct Scotland has also seen an increase in “Hi Mum/Hi Dad” scams, in which criminals impersonate loved ones and send unexpected messages via text or WhatsApp, urgently requesting money.

There has also been a surge in gift card scams, with criminals targeting people online posing as a friend asking for financial help in the form of vouchers from retailers.

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They then take the funds, or sell the codes to other scammers.

Advice Direct Scotland urged people to report any suspected scams to its scamwatch service, with the organisation able to then share this information with the authorities.

Lyndsay McFee, consumer project lead at Advice Direct Scotland, said: “Unfortunately, we are aware that Scots have lost more than £120,000 to fake cryptocurrency schemes in the space of three months.

“However, this is a significantly underreported problem, and there may be many more victims of such scams.

“Scammers are constantly seeking new opportunities, including through social media, to target Scots and acquire personal information, bank details, or money.

“It is crucial to stay vigilant while using both new and existing apps or websites.

“One key thing to remember is that if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

“Always thoroughly research any financial product or firm you are considering dealing with.

“People should not feel pressurised or rushed into making a purchase as this can be a clear sign of a scam. Never pay to recover any money as this is likely to be part of a larger fraud.

“The most effective way to stop scammers in their tracks is to report a scam to when you see one.

“Remember there is no shame in being scammed, and consumers who are concerned or need help should contact one of our specialist consumer advisers for free, impartial, and practical advice on 0808 164 6000 or”

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