Celebrity-endorsed cryptocurrency scams in the UK are on pace to almost double this year, Banco Santander SA’s local unit said.
“Case volumes” jumped 61% in the first quarter from the prior three months, Santander said in a statement on its website on Tuesday. The average value of the scams was £11,872 ($14,540), up 65% from a year earlier. Around £2 million was lost to such schemes in the quarter, according to the bank.
“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 UK’s head of fraud risk management, said in the statement.
Crypto scams are getting increased attention as regulators and politicians grapple with how to encourage technological innovation while at the same time protecting unsuspecting consumers. Santander said it expects the number of celebrity-endorsed crypto scams to rise 87% in 2022 based on the current rate of growth.
British billionaire Richard Branson brought attention to the issue this month, telling Bloomberg he’s stepping up efforts to stop his name from being used in fraudulent crypto schemes. Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey in April said cryptocurrencies are the new “front line” in the types of criminal scams regulators are trying to combat.