An information campaign is needed to highlight the risks associated with cryptocurrency and the prevalence of investment fraud, according to Fine Gael TD and Spokesperson on Social Media and Finance Technology, Emer Higgins.
Deputy Higgins said, “Almost one in five people in this country own cryptocurrency and interest in crypto assets is on the rise, especially among young people. Unfortunately, so too is investment fraud.
“An Garda Síochána report that investment fraud increased by 67 per cent last year. 234 such crimes were reported at a loss of €12.4 million.
“Personally, I’m noticing an increase in cryptocurrency scams being advertised on social media so I think it’s really important that people know how to spot these scams and how to invest safely with a legitimate entity.
“Even aside from the risk of fraud, people should bear in mind that virtual currencies are unregulated and as such are high risk anyway. If something goes wrong the consumer has no protections to fall back on and cannot access support from the Financial Services Ombudsman.
“Last month, the Central Bank issued a warning on the potential risks of investing in crypto assets, but I believe we urgently need a public information campaign to raise awareness of the risks associated with investing in an unregulated industry such as this and to highlight the prevalence of scams.
“I raised the matter with the Taoiseach this week in the Dáil and I also plan to raise it with the Central Bank.
“The expert advice is to do your homework before making any investments and always look for professional, financial and legal advice.
“Use regulated companies, be vigilant for social media scams and stick to the motto that if it seems too good to be true, it most likely is”, Deputy Higgins concluded.