Almost half of investment fraud victims are over the age of 55 – new figures show a dramatic rise in the number of fraud victims.
ardaí today warned the public to be extra vigilant when investing in cryptocurrencies.
The latest figures show that reports of investment fraud increased by 67 percent in 2021 compared to the previous year.
In 2021 there were 234 reports of investment fraud amounting to €12.4 million, compared to 140 reports in 2020 amounting to €8 million.
Gardaí said the victims were “ordinary people,” and they advised, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
In investment scams, criminals posing as investment managers trick someone into investing money in plans and projects that don’t exist.
Right now, most investment scammers involve cryptocurrencies with fake investment managers, cloned websites, or unregulated companies promising “once-in-a-lifetime opportunities” with quick and huge returns.
Sometimes they even appear to be endorsed by respected businessmen or celebrities, but without their knowledge.
In some cases, victims are tricked into downloading links that allow criminals to access their computers and empty their bank accounts.
They urge people to do their homework before making any investments amid the ongoing rise in cryptocurrency investment scams.
They said that at a time when the cost of living is rising, these sophisticated criminals are making the most of online opportunities to target more victims.
Ways to spot an investment scam
• In most cases, huge and fast returns in cryptocurrencies are offered by fake websites/companies as a hook.
• The fraudulent website is hosted outside of the EU or the company is registered in a far away country where there is no regulation or comeback.
• Pop-up ads that appear on your cryptocurrency investment social media feed often claim to be endorsed by well-known businessmen or celebrities.
• The fraudulent websites can look very sophisticated and professional; You may even be presented with impressive graphs, charts or forecasts showing how your investment is performing and encouraging you to part with even more money.
• You’re being pressured into accepting an offer – the ‘investment manager’ says you’ll regret it if you don’t invest right away.
How to avoid investment fraud
• Do not invest until you have received reliable financial and legal advice.
• Check the company’s regulatory status on the Central Bank of Ireland’s website.
• Don’t respond to pop-up/social media ads or messages that make wild claims about investment returns.
• Ignore unsolicited solicitations or cold calls regarding investments.
• Beware of investments endorsed by celebrities – they may not even know their name is being used.
• Be wary of fake wallets (to store your cryptocurrency) – these can be scams for malware to infect or control your computer.
• Don’t click on links from websites you don’t know (is the website even HTTPS secured?).
• Never allow anyone remote access to your computer (or download apps that give others control of your computer).
• Never give out personal information or passwords or bank account codes.
Detective Michael Cryan of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau said: “People are always drawn to big promises of profit. Because of this, these sophisticated, fraudulent cryptocurrency investments are on the rise – up 67 percent from 2020, with many other instances going unreported out of embarrassment.”
He said that between 2019 and 2021 “over €24 million was stolen from ordinary people across the country through investment fraud, many losing their pensions or life savings”.
Virtual currencies are risky and unregulated, and if anything goes wrong there is no consumer protection in Ireland, he said.
“We advise you to do your homework before making any investments – always seek professional financial and legal advice. Only deal with regulated companies and be wary of offers that seem too good to be true – they usually are.”
The Garda figures showed that almost 50 percent of investment fraud victims are over the age of 55 (63 percent are men and 37 percent are women).
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/news/people-have-lost-life-savings-gardai-say-half-of-victims-of-investment-fraud-aged-over-55-41503483.html “People have lost life savings” – says Gardaí, half of the victims of investment fraud over the age of 55