China’s proposed cryptocurrency continues to attract online fraudsters who are pretending to sell the coins that are not even close to being released. The project has attracted attention and cunning efforts over the last few months, with at least a dozen fake sellers on social media trying to convince users to buy the digital Yuan.
Croatia’s financial supervisor, Hanfa said it is aware of a Facebook page called ‘Yuan Pay Group’ that claims affiliation with the Chinese government and publishes ads for buying the Chinese cryptocurrency.
The scam promises victims huge returns and encourages people to pour cash into fake tokens. Following bitcoin’s epic bull run, hundreds of cryptocurrency fraudsters popped up around the internet overnight.
The digital yuan, which is controlled and issued by the China government, is a central bank digital currency (CBDC). The Asian giant completed a few trials of the coin and is currently rolling it out on major e-commerce platforms within the country. The digital version of the yuan has been under development for slightly more than five years, but the authorities are still far from a nationwide rollout and have instead focused on pilot projects.
While the Chinese CBDC does not have a monetary value right now because it has not launched to the public yet, the scammers claim that investing a few dollars will turn into a fortune shortly. Anyone who registered for that would then get hit by a boiler room.
Crypto Scam Top Regulators’ Caution List
Hanfa also warned that this scam uses ads with false endorsements from celebrities who have backed the crypto investment scheme.
The regulator found images of Sir Richard Branson and Peter Thiel, as well as testimonies of other celebrities, were used by the scammers to try to appear legitimate. It said criminals are still exploiting trusted global websites, including Facebook, to post fake celebrity endorsements for cryptocurrencies, in what they describe as “one of the most prolific” and “sophisticated” internet scams they have seen.
Hanfa said the profile of financial fraud is changing as more people are being targeted online, moving away from the traditional cold call. Fraudsters are now contacting people through a range of popular social media sites, such as Facebook, Instagram, WeChat, Whatsapp, Telegram and even online dating platforms.
While its caution catalog includes many long-standing threats, it also features emerging vehicles such as cryptocurrency, which the watchdog describes as one of the greatest risks to investors this year.
The regulator has put the phenomenon of the crypto craze at the top of their investment scams list, highlighting that cryptocurrencies and related financial products may be nothing more than “public facing fronts for Ponzi schemes and other frauds.”