The British Crown Prosecution Service expects an increase in the number of Bitcoin (BTC) and cryptocurrency-related scams in the coming years, but admits they are still quite rare for now.
The CPS estimates that 86% of reported fraud is now cyber-related – a situation exacerbated over the past year by the COVID-19 outbreak that drove more people online. reports the Financial Times.
City of London police statistics show that 27,187 reports of cybercrime were made in the UK and Northern Ireland between 2019 and 2020. Of that number, 5,581 were reports related to cryptocurrency investments, representing a fifth of all reported cybercrime incidents.
The number of general fraud cases added up 822,276 in the same period, suggesting that despite the rapid rise in Bitcoin’s fortune and the wider crypto market, it is still not readily taken over by potential fraudsters. Only 0.6% of the total fraud cases related to cryptocurrency, while only 3% related to cybercrime in general.
However, the rise of Bitcoin in 2020 did not go unnoticed by everyone. Cryptocurrency scams were up 57% in the year leading up to December 2020 – a year in which Bitcoin increased fivefold in value.
Director of prosecutors at the CPS, QC Max Hill, said promises of high investment returns are a common game used by fraudsters, and he expects the number of cases involving crypto to increase. On the rise of fraudulent cryptocurrency scams, Hill said:
“While high return on investment schemes have been used for decades, I think we’ll see more and more. Few cases are coming in now, but my prediction is that they will increase. “
Statistics show that nearly half of all fraud cases involve checks, plastic cards and bank accounts. According to City of London police, the top threats for 2021 include romance:
“The biggest dangers for 2020/21 are courier, romance, payment diversion, investments, computer software services and fraud involving card and online bank accounts.”
In 2026, a new economic crimes court will open in London, which will deal with fraud, economic crimes and cybercrime in one place.