Find out how crypto investment scams work, how to avoid them and what to do if you’re scammed.First published: 27/06/2018 Last updated: 09/10/2023 See all updates
On this page
How crypto investment scams work
Crypto investment scams are on the rise. In fact, reports to us about these scams have more than doubled since 2020, so it’s important to know what to look out for.
Fraudsters tend to advertise on social media, often using images of celebrities to promote the fake investments. But they may also target people searching for investments online, through search engines like Google and Bing.
The scam adverts often link to professional-looking websites, where fraudsters may manipulate software to fake prices and investment returns. Once you’ve invested, the scammers may act quickly, closing your account and taking your money. Or they may continue the pretence, to encourage others to invest. You may not even realise you’ve invested in a scam until you try to sell your investment.
How to protect yourself from scams
Most crypto-related activities aren’t regulated in the UK. This means that if you invest in crypto, you generally won't have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service if you want to complain.
You also won't be protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) if the firm goes out of business. This means it’s unlikely you’d get your money back.
Watch out for the warning signs
- Have you been contacted out of the blue?
- Are you being pressured to invest quickly?
- Are you being promised investment returns that sound unrealistic?
If you answer 'yes' to any of these questions, be extremely cautious. Remember, if an investment opportunity sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
Check our Financial Services Register
Firms offering crypto products in the UK must be registered with us or have permission to promote them. Our FS Register will show you which firms are registered, and which firms are operating without permission.
- Search for the firm by name, or by using its firm reference number (FRN).
- If the firm is registered, check what activities and services it has permission for.
- Check the firm's contact details and make sure they match the contact details you've been given.
- If you can’t find a firm on the FS Register, it’s unlikely the firm has permission to offer you crypto products and you should avoid using the firm.
But remember, just because a firm is registered, doesn’t mean you’ll have access to the FSCS or the Financial Ombudsman if something goes wrong.
If you've been scammed
If you’re worried about a potential scam, or you think you may have been contacted by a fraudster, you can report it to us
Call us on 0800 111 6768 or use our contact form to get in touch.
If you’ve already invested in a scam, it’s important to remember that fraudsters may try to target you again, or sell your details to other criminals.
The follow-up scam may be completely different, or it may be related to the previous fraud. It may include an offer to get your money back or an offer to buy back the investment after you pay a fee.