Crypto investment scams

Find out how crypto investment scams work, how to avoid them and what to do if you’re scammed.

First published: 27/06/2018 Last updated: 09/10/2023 See all updates

You should be prepared to lose all the money you invest in crypto. But if you do decide to invest, it’s important to do your own thorough research. You can read more about crypto and investing in crypto from InvestSmart.

How crypto investment scams work

Crypto investment scams are on the rise. In fact, reports to us about these scams have more than doubled since 2020, so it’s important to know what to look out for.

Fraudsters tend to advertise on social media, often using images of celebrities to promote the fake investments. But they may also target people searching for investments online, through search engines like Google and Bing.

The scam adverts often link to professional-looking websites, where fraudsters may manipulate software to fake prices and investment returns. Once you’ve invested, the scammers may act quickly, closing your account and taking your money. Or they may continue the pretence, to encourage others to invest. You may not even realise you’ve invested in a scam until you try to sell your investment.

How to protect yourself from scams

Most crypto-related activities aren’t regulated in the UK. This means that if you invest in crypto, you generally won't have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service if you want to complain.

You also won't be protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) if the firm goes out of business. This means it’s unlikely you’d get your money back.


Watch out for the warning signs

  • Have you been contacted out of the blue?  
  • Are you being pressured to invest quickly?  
  • Are you being promised investment returns that sound unrealistic?  

If you answer 'yes' to any of these questions, be extremely cautious. Remember, if an investment opportunity sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. 


Check our Financial Services Register

Firms offering crypto products in the UK must be registered with us or have permission to promote them. Our FS Register will show you which firms are registered, and which firms are operating without permission.  

  • Search for the firm by name, or by using its firm reference number (FRN).   
  • If the firm is registered, check what activities and services it has permission for. 
  • Check the firm's contact details and make sure they match the contact details you've been given. 
  • If you can’t find a firm on the FS Register, it’s unlikely the firm has permission to offer you crypto products and you should avoid using the firm.  

Search the FS Register

But remember, just because a firm is registered, doesn’t mean you’ll have access to the FSCS or the Financial Ombudsman if something goes wrong. 

If you've been scammed

If you’re worried about a potential scam, or you think you may have been contacted by a fraudster, you can report it to us

Call us on 0800 111 6768 or use our  contact form to get in touch.

If you’ve already invested in a scam, it’s important to remember that fraudsters may try to target you again, or sell your details to other criminals.

The follow-up scam may be completely different, or it may be related to the previous fraud. It may include an offer to get your money back or an offer to buy back the investment after you pay a fee.

Page updates

: Information changed Updates following crypto financial promotions rules and added 'check the FS Register'.
: Editorial amendment
: Editorial amendment General editorial amends.
: Information added On the Unregistered Cryptoasset Businesses list
: Editorial amendment page update as part of website refresh