The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the United Kingdom’s main financial watchdog, reported that $255 million was lost to cryptocurrency and other investment related scams in 2018 alone. According to the agency’s official press release published on February 6, last year has seen some of the biggest scam-related losses recorded.
Data from FCA’s call center showed that the most common reported scams involved unauthorized investments in shares and bonds, forex markets and cryptocurrencies. Every victim of such a scam lost an average of £29,000, or around $37,000.
CipherTrace, a crypto analytics firm, published similar data, showing 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 ICOs.
The rise in popularity cryptocurrencies have seen in the past few years shifted the way scams are being conducted. FCA found that scammers have used online sources 9 percent more than in 2017, contacting people through emails, professional looking websites, and social media websites.
Back in December 2018, the FCA revealed that it was investigating 18 UK-based companies over their use of cryptocurrencies, as well as 50 other crypto-related entities that have been operating without licenses.