Following a warning from the national watchdog earlier this month, regional authorities across the United Kingdom say Bitcoin scammers are using the coronavirus crisis to hoax citizens.
In a series of consumer fraud alerts published throughout March, Manchester city council and the counties of Pembrokeshire and Norfolk echoed the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)’s caution against “sophisticated” and “opportunistic” cryptocurrency-related schemes operating during the pandemic.
The three regional authorities identify a range of tactics adopted by Bitcoin (BTC) scams to take advantage of the social disorientation and anxiety amid the public health crisis. Manchester city council warns against:
“Fraudsters purporting to be from a research group that mimic the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organisation (WHO). They claim to provide the victim with a list of active infections in their area but to access this information the victim needs to either: click on a link which redirects them to a credential-stealing page; or make a donation of support in the form of a payment into a Bitcoin account.”
Similar schemes claiming to offer up-to-date infection tracking data and soliciting payments in Bitcoin are identified on all three regional government sites.
Meanwhile, the FCA has emphasized that high-return investment opportunities, including investments in crypto assets, may be repurposed to take advantage of the current pandemic.
As previously reported, crypto-related scams have been operating on both sides of the Atlantic during the COVID-19 outbreak.
In mid-March, the United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission highlighted that fraudsters may be exploiting the crisis in order to add credibility to their scam schemes or manipulate emotions.