Despite the best efforts of governments and regulatory bodies, investment scams across the globe have hit record levels and are showing no signs of abating.
In the UK, the charity Citizens Advice reported this week that it has dealt with more than double the number of cases than in the previous 12 months. Investment and legal scams, which saw scammers pose as professionals from financial and legal services, rose by 6% to 1,200, with the average loss at £330.
A new wave of investment scam hit the UK, with binary options and forex fraud taking a back seat to cryptocurrency scams. Fake websites offering fake crypto coins have been on the rise in the UK, fleecing British citizens out of millions of pounds.
And it isn’t just the UK that is seeing record levels of investment scams. In Australia, in April alone, an astonishing $3.29m was scammed in investment frauds, up from the $3.11 scammed in March and taking the total scammed in investment fraud up to $16.04 million so far this year.
In South Africa, the Serious Economic Offenses Unit are currently investigating a company called Bitcaw Trading Company for an investment fraud that has affected nearly 30,000 people and involving more than $80 million. The cryptocurrency scam is considered to be one big Ponzi scheme that promised 6000% growth on initial capital over three years.
In North America, US and Canadian regulators have been trying to clamp down on the crypto frauds, with the US Department of Justice launching an investigation into cryptocurrency price manipulations. The US has seen a boom in crypto and investment frauds and the SEC has begun targeting fake ICOs (initial coin offerings) in an aggressive manner.
It has however, not all been successes for the scammers despite investment frauds reaching new levels. Meyer Wilson, one of the leading investment fraud lawyers has recovered over $350,000,000 for their clients, including a $260 million jury verdict for over 200 retirees who suffered significant losses.
What is becoming apparent is that fraudsters are making use of advances in technology to carry out old scams and tricks. Ponzi schemes are still rife across the world and the traditional timeshare/holiday property scams still take in a lot of people. However, it is the gold rush of the crypto world that has replaced Binary Options as the number one global investment fraud. Using elaborate websites and technology to fleece unsuspecting victims of their money, the authorities and regulatory bodies around the world are struggling to keep up with the scammers and the war looks far from over.