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UK government bans cold calls for digital asset sales

The United Kingdom is taking measures to clamp down on fraud and scams by introducing a blanket ban on cold calls selling financial products, including digital asset sales.

On May 3, the U.K. government announced a blanket ban on cold calls selling financial products, including digital assets, which covers legitimate calls as well as scams, “so that anyone who receives calls trying to sell them products such as crypto currency schemes or insurance will know it’s a scam.”

In its press release, the Government justified the move by quoting statistics on fraud and scams in the U.K.:

“Fraud now accounts for over 40% of crime. It costs us nearly £7 billion a year and we know these proceeds are funding organised crime and terror. What’s more, new technologies are making these scams easier to do and harder to police.”

This is backed up by recent numbers in the digital asset space, where according to the blockchain and smart contract security firm Certified Kernel Tech (CertiK), digital asset-related exploits, hacks, and scams alone resulted in losses of $103 million in April, a worryingly high number which was actually down from $211 million in March 2023.

In an attempt to address this and other forms of financial fraud and scams, the U.K. government introduced the ban on cold calls along with a raft of other measures, notably outlawing so-called “SIM farms,” technical devices that allow criminals to scam texts to thousands of people at the same time; and cracking down on “number spoofing,” where scammers impersonate U.K. numbers and trick people into thinking they’re speaking to banks, telephone companies or other legitimate businesses.

These will be supported by the launch of a new National Fraud Squad led by the National Crime Agency and the City of London Police, as well as a £30 million ($38 million) investment in a “state-of-the-art reporting centre” to be up and running within the year.

It remains to be seen what effect these new rules and measures will have on the concerning fraud statistics. Still, U.K. opposition parties, Labour and the Liberal Democrats, were less optimistic about the announcement, calling the plans “too little, too late.”

Watch: Head of Unit, Digital Innovation and Blockchain at DG Connect, European Commission Pēteris Zilgalvis on Bitcoin Association’s Blockchain Policy Matters

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