Banco Santander SA’s local unit said that celebrity-endorsed cryptocurrency scams in the UK are on pace to almost double this year.  

“Case volumes” jumped 61% in the first quarter over the previous three months, Santander said in a statement on its website on Tuesday. The average value of the scams was £11,872 (US$14,540), up to about 65% from a year earlier. According to the bank, around £2 million was lost to such schemes in the quarter.   

“We’re seeing a worrying rise in ‘celebrity-endorsed’ cryptocurrency scams, where familiar faces are being misused on social media in order to con people out of often life-changing sums of money,” said Chris Ainsley, Santander UK’s head of fraud risk management, announced.

Crypto scams are getting increasingly popular as regulators and politicians struggle with how to encourage technological innovation, and at the same time protecting unsuspecting consumers. Santander said it is expected that  the number of celebrity-endorsed crypto scams will rise up to 87% in 2022, based on the current rate of growth. British billionaire Richard Branson is telling Bloomberg he’s stepping up efforts to stop his name from being used in fraudulent crypto schemes. Cryptocurrencies are the new “front line” in the types of criminal scams regulators are trying to combat, said Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey in April.


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