Nottingham Forest midfielder Gustavo Scarpa has reportedly lost almost £1m in a cryptocurrency scam, as the FBI reveal that more than $2bn was lost to cryptocurrency investment scams in 2022.
Premier League club Nottingham Forest have revealed that they have allowed their 29-year-old Brazilian attacking midfielder Gustavo Scarpa to return to his homeland to deal with a case of cryptocurrency fraud.
According to reports in Brazil, Scarpa has appeared in court in a bid to regain his money and his Nottingham Forest boss Steve Cooper has said that the situation has impacted heavily on the player's mental wellbeing and mindset.
Cooper said of the player's recent absence from the squad:
"It's an unfortunate situation and he's got our full support with it. I can tell you that he has had some personal issues to sort out and we are giving him our support, which is inclusive of allowing him to travel back home to Brazil.
"We're supporting Gustavo in terms of what he's going through and of course it affects football performance and availability, and all that sort of stuff. Those things go hand in hand, of course. We want him settled in his mind and hopefully he can get it sorted out very soon."
The news comes as the FBI revealed that more than $2bn was lost to cryptocurrency investment scams last year. As a result, banks around the world are taking action, with NatWest becoming the latest to impose daily and monthly caps on money transferred to cryptocurrency exchanges, in a bid to protect its customers.
Cryptocurrency investment scams have overtaken both business email compromise and ransomware as the most lucrative scheme deployed by cybercriminals, claims the FBI report.
Criminals are using a technique known as “pig butchering”. These scams generally follow a set formula; victims are approached, trust is then built in an online relationship, before the crypto investment scam is introduced and funds are stolen.
“Criminals coach victims through the investment process, show them fake profits and encourage them to invest more,” the FBI warns. “When victims attempt to withdraw their money, they are told they need to pay a fee or taxes. Victims are unable to get their money back, even if they pay the imposed fees or taxes.”
With the scams impacting internet users worldwide, banks are starting to take action, with NatWest being the latest to put restrictions on crypto transactions. It follows in the footsteps of fellow UK lenders Nationwide and HSBC, both of which imposed similar restrictions last week.
“A daily limit of £1,000 and a 30-day payment limit of £5,000 to cryptocurrency exchanges is being implemented to help protect customers losing life-changing sums of money,” a statement released yesterday by the bank says.
According to the FBI report, the UK is second only to the US in number of victims of online fraud, with 284,291 being recorded in 2022.
“You should always have sole control of your cryptocurrency wallet and nobody else should have access. If you didn’t set the wallet up yourself or can’t access the money then this is likely to be a scam,” said Stuart Skinner, head of fraud detection at NatWest.
Report all Fraud and Cybercrime to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or online. Forward suspicious emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. Report SMS scams by forwarding the original message to 7726 (spells SPAM on the keypad).