Men in their 30s are most likely to fall victim to cryptocurrency scams as the total lost to the fraud topped £328 million, it has been revealed.
Figures released by the UK’s cyber crime reporting agency showed 9,722 people came forward to detail staggering losses at the hands of fraudsters last year.
And the number could be the “tip of the iceberg”, say bosses at CEL Solicitors who collected the data from Action Fraud.
According to the figures, between January 1 and December 31 last year (2022) 5,335 men reported losses.
In the same time period, 3,209 women came forward while in 1,178 cases the gender was unknown.
Victims varied in age but the most common bracket was 30 to 39. People in their 20s placed the second highest number of reports, while 118 over the age of 80 were targeted.
Paul Hampson, CEO at CEL Solicitors, said: “These shocking figures show that no-one is immune to being targeted by scammers. Victims can be any age and any gender, and it shows everyone should be on their guard.
“Cryptocurrency or ‘crypto’ scams are one of the most common and usually involve victims either being sold fake digital currency or a promise to invest in real cryptocurrency but their money is stolen instead.
“They are part of broader investment scams where the victim knowingly transfers money to a fraudster believing they are making a real – and therefore safe – investment. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
“Action Fraud data is based on victim reporting so it’s possible the total victims could actually be a lot higher than the official statistics show.”
The highest number of reports were made in January 2022, when 1,042 people came forward. The second busiest month was March.
Across the year 9,722 reports of investment and pension fraud crime concerning cryptocurrency were reported to Action Fraud.
The total financial loss amounted to £328,322,065.
Hampson said: “We believe there needs to be more regulation from the Financial Conduct Authority against crypto exchanges so they adopt the same policies and procedures as banks in the UK to prevent people becoming victims.
“In many cases criminals put a lot of time and effort into deceiving people. They can appear to strike up genuine friendships or entice people into investing using fake profiles on social media where they share pictures of luxury items.
“They can also use phishing emails, text messages and phone calls to lure people into making investments.
“Fraudsters can also suggest time-limited offers to sway people into acting quickly with the promise of large profits which never materialise.
“It’s important to be wary of companies who contact you out of the blue. Don’t be pressured into making rushed decisions, either by the lure of time-limited offers or people repeatedly calling, texting or emailing you.
“Always keep in mind that if an opportunity seems too good to be true, then it often is. Talk to your friends, family and people you trust. And if you think you are the victim of a scam it’s important to seek legal advice.”