A ‘worrying’ surge in cryptocurrency scams falsely claiming to be endorsed by celebrities such as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle has been reported by a major bank in the UK. On average, people lost $14,463 (£11,872) to this type of scam in the first quarter of this year, Santander said. Based on the current growth in these frauds, Santander is expecting to see an 87 percent increase in cases in 2022, compared to last year.
Chris Ainsley, head of fraud risk management, Santander UK, said: ‘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. ‘Rather than reveling in the promised high returns, people are losing significant sums after being duped by these highly sophisticated criminals. Always do your homework and thoroughly research any investment opportunity before moving any money – irrespective of who is endorsing it.’
Fabricated interviews, as well as photos of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, were used in online articles falsely claiming the couple have backed schemes related to Bitcoin and cryptocurrency trading. One of the fake headlines read: ‘People earning millions from home by using Harry and Meghan latest advice.’
The couple are among a string of celebrities – including Bill Gates, Sir Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg and singer Ed Sheeran – being misused in get-rich-quick scams, according to the Financial Conduct Authority. Other well known names include This Morning hosts Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield and Moneysavingexpert’s Martin Lewis, who have been attributed with false quotes advertising the trading schemes.