Discovered in the heart of London’s square mile, around the corner from the Bank of England, a large call center was found to be cold calling potential investors, selling the hype that has surrounded cryptocurrencies recently. However, they were selling a false dream as their product was fraudulent, fake, and non-existent digital currency.
British authorities have arrested an individual for allegedly fleecing would-be investors by means of a fake cryptocurrency investment strategy.
In an August 11 news article, the City of London Police said that they had arrested a man they thought was part of a group that was cold-calling individuals in the U.K. and supplying them cryptocurrency investments. The “boiler room” operation was conducted from an office at the City of London, the capital’s financial center, the report stated.
Despite persuading some people to invest in the plot, the cryptocurrency seemingly never existed, however. The authorities said those involved were able to create 160,000 pounds (roughly $205,000) throughout the strategy.
According to the police statement, the unnamed person has been charged with money laundering and conspiracy to defraud.
“Investment fraudsters continue targeting individuals around the nation and they use aggressive sales tactics that are often utilised to [strain] unsuspecting victims into parting with large sums of money,
These people often base themselves in the City as they believe having an address in a prestigious financial district will help to legitimise their fraud.
I urge anyone who is cold called and offered investment opportunities to simply put the phone down – a legitimate company will never cold call you and put you in a position where you need to make an investment on the spot.” inspector Mark Forster said in a statement.
An investigation into the plot started earlier this year after some of the victims contacted Action Fraud, a U.K. fraud and cybercrime reporting support.
While the police statement did not provide the title of this cryptocurrency touted by the fraudsters, previous reports have suggested that authorities in London are exploring OneCoin, a crypto investment strategy broadly alleged to be deceptive.
OneCoin, promoted as a digital currency investment opportunity, was cited as a risk to consumers this week by the UK Financial Conduct Authority, one of several finance regulators in the country and the agency that has participated in the licensing of legitimate bitcoin and blockchain service providers.
Marketed as a digital currency similar to bitcoin, OneCoin has key differences such as an promotion-heavy pitch focused on selling investment packages and a centralized hub for exchange, storage and transaction logging. Critics have gone so far as to argue that OneCoin, as a currency, doesn’t actually exist.
In statements, the FCA urged consumers who believe they have been scammed to contact the London police’s fraud division. The agency said:
“This firm is not authorized by us and we do not believe it is undertaking any activities that require our authorization. However, we are concerned about the potential risks this firm poses to UK consumers.”
Notably, this is not the first time that OneCoin has drawn the ire of regulators.