The United Kingdom Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has reported that common investment scams’ losses — including those crypto-related — amounted in total to over £197 million ($255 million) in 2018. The agency reported the losses in an official press release published on Feb. 6.
According to data from the FCA call center, the most common reported scams involved unauthorized investments in shares and bonds, forex markets and cryptocurrencies. Each victim lost an average of £29,000 ($37,000), with such types of fraudulent investments accounting for a total of 4,996 reported cases and constituting 85 percent of the overall number of scam reports in 2018.
In the recent warning to investors, the FCA stressed that investors should be particularly careful in making investments during the first quarter of the year, which is considered as the peak investment season before the end of the tax year.
The financial watchdog has also noted that the spread of investment scams is shifting from traditional cold calls to scamming online. According to the FCA, scammers have used online sources 9 percent more than in 2017, contacting people through emails and professional looking websites, as well as through social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram.
Earlier in January, crypto analytics firm CipherTrace reported that around $1.7 billion was obtained through illegal means in 2018, including $960 million stolen from crypto exchanges, and $725 million lost in scams, exit schemes and fraudulent initial coin offerings (ICOs).
In December 2018, the FCA revealed that it was investigating 18 firms over cryptocurrency use. A month before, in November 2018, the FCA had stated that they were looking into more than 50 crypto-related entities that may have been offering financial services without the proper permission.