Banco Santander is warning customers in the United Kingdom that celebrity-endorsed cryptocurrency scams are on track to nearly double this year.
According to an announcement on the company’s website Tuesday (June 28), case volumes rose 61% in the first quarter compared to the previous three months, with the average value of the scams leaping 65% year over year to 11,872 British pounds (about $14,500). About 2 million pounds (about $2.4 million) was lost to these schemes during this quarter.
“We’re seeing a worrying rise in ‘celebrity-endorsed’ cryptocurrency scams, where familiar faces are being misused on social media in order to con people out of often life-changing sums of money,” said Chris Ainsley, Santander U.K.’s head of fraud risk management, in the announcement.
The scams start when a customer sees a cryptocurrency ad featuring a celebrity, who appears to be endorsing that digital token, the announcement stated. The customer clicks a link and shares their contact details and is then contacted by a “salesperson” — who often uses high-pressure tactics — promising high returns.
The fraudster tells the customer to download remote software to help them open crypto accounts, giving the scammer access to the customer’s computer. From there, they can freeze access and take over the customer’s account, according to the announcement.
The bank warned customers to keep in mind that celebrity endorsements may not always be genuine and cautioned them against letting other people establish a cryptocurrency wallet, upload ID documents, or manage investments on their behalf remotely.
Santander also recommended in the announcement customers visit the website of the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to determine if the company selling cryptocurrency is a legitimate firm.
Last week, the FCA announced its plans to use data to address online fraud faster. The FCA said it will invest heavily in its use of data in 2022/2023, including recruiting a large number of artificial intelligence (AI), analytics and data science professionals.
Read more: UK Financial Regulator Will Use AI, Data Analytics to Tackle Online Scams Faster