Oh, those pesky scammers. Even regulatory and law enforcement agencies are not immune from their reach, as the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) found out when it was disclosed on July 22 that scammers had issued an email using the regulatory agency’s name. This proved to be a bit of a blow as last week the FCA issued a statement on how they had been investigating more firms and individuals for alleged misconduct.
The scam was rather ingenious. The email appeared to be from the FCA, and offered recipients what they referred to as a “guaranteed chance to earn” on crypto assets. The email included the regulating agency’s branding and logo alongside the Prudential Regulation Authority and encouraged those reading the email to purchase SegWitCoin (BTC) as it was explained that the value of the BTC was about to increase greatly in the very near future.
The problem was that the FCA did not release the email. In fact, there were clear indicators that something was wrong and that readers should have been skeptical. This included the fact that the text on the button to proceed was misspelled, reading as “Click here.”
The scam was revealed to the FCA when Dominic Thomas, founder and principal of the London-based Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers, notified the regulatory agency of a potential scam. He revealed in a series of tweets that he had received multiple emails over a period of several days promising great returns on BTC and other digital assets.
The email touts a near certainty that BTC is about to increase. A portion reads, “Bitcoin is still a long way off its peak price of $20,000, which it reached in 2017, but some cryptocurrency experts believe it could hit an even higher value by 2020.”
While no virus appeared to be contained within the message, Thomas became concerned that this was a phishing expedition by the authors of the email. What was ironic about the email is that the FCA is responsible for informing the public about such schemes, but has been trapped in one themselves.
On July 16, the FCA issued a statement related to enforcement activities of the regulatory agency. They explained that the amount of penalties the regulatory agency had imposed increased from £69.9 million (US$87 million) to £227.3 million (US$283 million) and that they currently had 343 cases that have been opened in the last 12 months, 189 of those have already closed.
Now it appears they will be opening a new case, investigating themselves. While no one at the FCA is suspected of being involved in the scam, it is clear that someone has created a rather elaborate ruse. While this may have been a creative idea, the scammers should be on alert. No doubt that the FCA will invest the full weight of their authority and resources into capturing the scammers, bringing them to justice
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