7 November 2022

HSBC UK issues cryptocurrency warning

With the increase in the cost of living and the recent devaluation in value of cryptocurrency making it seem more attractive to those wanting to make a quick return, HSBC UK is warning customers to be extra vigilant of scams and guiding them on what to look out for when looking to invest their hard-earned money.

HSBC UK is also encouraging customers to download its ‘HSBC Fraud’ app, where real-time warnings about newly identified scams can be received, to help protect against scammers. The app is free-to-use and available to everyone, whether they use Android or iOS platforms, where they can receive real-time warnings on new scams being spotted.

The latest statistics from HSBC UK showed that investment scams are one of the three most commons scams seen by the bank. Very latest industry statistics, shared by UK Finance, showed that £61.2m was lost to investment scams across 5,166 cases in the first half of 2022.

David Callington, HSBC UK’s Head of Fraud, said: “Cryptocurrency scams are on the rise with some victims losing a huge amount of money. The disturbing reality is that there are sophisticated criminals trying to get their hands on your hard-earned money, and they don’t care if you can’t afford it, if it is your life savings or even if it leaves you without a penny to your name.

HSBC UK issues warning on Crypto scams to millions of customers

“Scammers use every opportunity and every trick in the book to prey on people and persuade them to send money, often offering impossible rates of return with minimal risk, or even pretending to be celebrities or ‘influencers’. With the cost of living going up, and people looking to make their money stretch or find new ways to increase their income, scammers are circling.”

David adds: “The general rule is that if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Customers can check if a company is authorised via the FCA website – if it’s not regulated we wouldn’t recommend investing.”

Case Study

Here is the story of one person, who we are calling Melissa, who fell victim to a Cryptocurrency scam. The details are fictitious but are based on a genuine case. All the names, locations and other aspects have been changed to protect the anonymity of the individuals involved.

Melissa had banked with HSBC for 11 years and had never tried her hand at investing before.

She followed a well-known influencer on social media, who portrayed himself as a successful businessman with a focus on promoting investments. This piqued her interest and when she got in touch with him directly online, he persuaded her to start investing in cryptocurrency.

“He began teaching me how to trade and at first it all seemed to go well,” said Melissa. “He was very persuasive.”

The influencer then instructed her to open an account with another financial institution and asked her to link it to a cryptocurrency trading platform. Over time, she made a total of 160 payments amounting to more than £300,000.

Melissa said: “I actually sold many of my assets to help fund these payments because he kept telling me that I would make significant returns on these investments.”

Promising high returns is a common method that fraudsters use to convince customers to invest more.

Many of these payments triggered our fraud detection systems. As a result, we made several calls to Melissa to clarify the reason for the payments — but she told us they were for a variety of things other than investing in cryptocurrency. The fraudster had coerced Melissa into doing this. Again, it’s a common technique that criminals use to try to stop banks from spotting potential fraud.

Melissa eventually found out she’d fallen victim to a cryptocurrency scam when she spoke to a family member about her investments. They checked out the platform online and realised it wasn’t legitimate.

But it was too late to stop the fraudster and Melissa lost all of her money.

What to watch out for

  • If someone asks you to move money, but to give your bank another reason to ensure a ‘smoother’ transaction. Fraudsters know payments for investments may attract more scrutiny and will try to avoid it.
  • Fraudsters may also ask you to download software in order to access your devices and move money without your knowledge.
  • They may impersonate famous personalities on social media or messaging groups, to make their offer look legitimate.
  • Some fraudsters may also ask for access to your cryptocurrency accounts, supposedly so they can trade on your behalf. But if you give them your log on details or let them have remote access, they can then move money out of your digital wallets.
  • The most high value cases even give a return in the short term, to convince the victims to invest more. Then, after they send larger payments, they suffer even greater losses.

Top tips to keep your money safe

  • Before making any investment, always research the company and check theyre FCA regulated.
  • Never allow anyone to set up a cryptocurrency wallet, upload ID documents or manage investments for you.
  • If in doubt, check with a family member or friend before you do anything.
  • Report any suspicious activity. It builds awareness of fraud and helps everybody.

Think you’ve seen something suspicious?

To report a scam or fraudulent activity, get in touch.

  • Chat with us in online banking by selecting the ‘Chat’ button
  • If you receive a suspicious email or text, report it at phishing@hsbc.co.uk
  • Call us using the number on the back of your card, or use the ‘159’ short dial code.

Email: UKPressOffice@hsbc.co.uk

Note to editors:


HSBC UK serves over 14.85 million customers across the UK, supported by 23,500 colleagues. HSBC UK offers a complete range of retail banking and wealth management to personal and private banking customers, as well as commercial banking for small to medium businesses and large corporates. HSBC UK Bank plc is a wholly owned subsidiary of HSBC Holdings plc.

HSBC Holdings plc, the parent company of HSBC, is headquartered in London. HSBC serves customers worldwide from offices in 63 countries and territories in its geographical regions: Europe, Asia, North America, Latin America, and Middle East and North Africa. With assets of $2,992bn at 30 September 2022, HSBC is one of the world’s largest banking and financial services organisations.