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UK watchdog says currency and crypto scams hit £27 million

A small toy figurine is seen on representations of the Bitcoin virtual currency displayed in front of an image of China's flag in this illustration picture, April 9, 2019. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

LONDON (Reuters) - Scams in Britain involving currencies and crypto assets like bitcoin totalled £27 million in the last financial year, with average losses of 14,600 pounds per victim, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said on Tuesday.

Reports of scams more than tripled in the year that ended in April to 1,800 as fraudsters often used social media to promote their "get rich quick" online trading platforms, according to an FCA statement.

"Investors will often be led to believe that their first investment has successfully made a profit," it said.

The fraudster then contacts the victim to invest more money with a false promise of greater profits. The customer account is later closed and the scammer disappears, the FCA said.

The FCA said it would run advertsising to raise awareness of online trading scams.

"We're warning the public to be suspicious of adverts which promise high returns from online trading platforms," said Mark Steward, the FCA's executive director of enforcement and market oversight.

(Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Mark Heinrich)