Presently, the most impersonated UK institution is not a bank nor a Government department, but the Daily Mirror, which is used to promote cryptocurrency scams.
The scale of these cryptocurrency scams is substantial, such that there are currently more fake Daily Mirror front pages than PayPal phishing login forms.
An example is an article on how Richard Branson would bring “Financial Freedom for ALL UK Residents”.
The general theme of these articles is how readers are able to make a small deposit into a cryptocurrency platform and leverage their algorithms to make easy money. The generally well-worded articles provide step-by-step instructions on how a reader is able to deposit their money and withdraw their supposed profits. The link at the end of these instructions typically takes the victim to a professional-looking site operated by the fraudster where they are directed to deposit their money.
In general, these scams are sophisticated, make use of Geo-blocking, and serve localised content depending on the country of the reader. By visiting these sites from many different locations, we found that numerous news outlets are impersontated. For example, when visiting one of the scams from a German IP address, a German language article is served referencing Der Spiegel and Bild. When visiting from the US and Canada, a diet product scam is served instead of the cryptocurrency scam site. No scams are served when visiting from Russian IP addresses.
Scams like these have attracted the attention of the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). In collaboration with Actionfraud, the FCA discovered a rise in the number of fraudulent online trading platforms . The reported number of cryptocurrency and foreign exchange scams more than tripled in the 2018/19 financial year from 530 than 1,834. Many of the reported claims related to cryptocurrency scams.