Chasing the next big thing can sometimes make for strange bedfellows.
But even bearing that in mind, for Jeremy Clarkson, Sir Alan Sugar and Simon Cowell to have all profited from an obscure online cryptocurrency investment scheme seems a little too much of a coincidence.
Or, more likely, it’s a scam.
That’s the claim made in an article faked to look like it has been published on ITV’s website about Bitcoin Revolution, which supposedly has ringing endorsements for the investment scheme from a string of celebrities.
An online Bitcoin investment platform claimed Jeremy Clarkson said it was his best investment ever. Clarkson told us he had never heard of it and would be speaking to his lawyers
Except, of course, neither the host of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, nor the star of The Apprentice, or the top judge on The X-Factor are really backing this scam, which This is Money was alerted to by a reader who had read it online.
The fake article carries a supposed quote from Clarkson saying: ‘Bitcoin Revolution has been the greatest investment I’ve ever made.’
However, when we contacted the Grand Tour host and ex-Top Gear star, he told This is Money: ‘I have absolutely no knowledge of this company. It is a scam.
‘I’ve engaged the services of a lawyer to deal with this. And will now go online to see what a “bitcoin” is.’
This is Money has warned the celebrities mentioned about the scam using their name.
Bitcoin Revolution is advertised on a fake ITV news story, which begins with a tale about a bride who made millions from investing in Bitcoin
The fake article contains the tale of a bride who told her groom on their wedding day she’d become a millionaire thanks to an automated Bitcoin trading platform, Bitcoin Revolution.
I have absolutely no knowledge of this company. It is a scam
The article is designed to lure in unwitting punters with praise from the stars and the fact that it looks as if it comes from a reputable news source, ITV.
It also falsely claims as an endorsement to have been seen on the BBC2, the Daily Mail, the Sun, Good Morning Britain and the Guardian.
It is trying to attract people to sign up to Bitcoin Revolution, inviting them to deposit an initial $250 and become ‘the next millionaire’.
Interspersed with this unlikely tale is the supposed backing of the celebrities.
The advert claims Clarkson was approached by a recent graduate on the set of ITV’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire? who pitched him the Bitcoin trading platform
It goes on to detail how a university graduate pitched the idea of the platform to the host of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, Jeremy Clarkson, after a show.
Clarkson apparently was unconvinced until he was shown how an initial £250 deposit was turned into £323.18 ‘within three minutes’, thanks to a combination of ‘data and machine learning’ that meant the platform ‘would know the perfect time to buy Bitcoin low and sell high’.
He was so convinced that he apparently said he would pay £2million for 25 per cent of the company.
Other converts apparently included Simon Cowell, who was claimed to have made a 630 per cent return on his investment and Sir Alan Sugar.
The article also falsely claimed that Simon Cowell had made big returns using the platform
Readers should, of course avoid Bitcoin Revolution like the plague and we are deliberately not linking to the article, which is still online.
This is just the latest example of celebrity-fronted Bitcoin trading scams of a kind which according to the Financial Conduct Authority stole £27million from victims in 2018-19.
This article in places has muddled up two scam stories, the endorsement of the stars and a previous Dragons’ Den yarn, claiming the famous investors bought part of the company.
Mistakes and implausible claims are a hallmark of scams, designed to weed out the savvy and leave those more likely to fall for them
Simon Cowell is quoted as saying that ‘the entrepreneurs decided to go with Jeremy’.
However, while this may seem sloppy, making mistakes and implausible claims is a hallmark of scams, designed to weed out the savvy and leave those more likely to fall for them.
Bitcoin Revolution claims that in return for a two per cent commission on your profits you have access to a platform which performs at a ‘99.4 per cent level of accuaracy’ (the spelling mistake is theirs) – and is ‘ahead of the markets by 0.01 seconds.’
This latter part is a key selling point of the whole scam, intended to rope in investors who feel they are getting access to something which will give them an advantage over everyone else and beat them to a profit.
It’s also key because those who know little about investing in or trading cryptocurrency would likely feel intimidated about the prospect of doing so unless they felt they had a crutch of some kind.
The platform’s website encourages you to take the plunge and deposit €250 to become the next Bitcoin millionaire – and for added measure features a shot of Bill Gates
The scheme claims that in return for a 2% commission on your profits you have access to a platform which is highly accurate and ahead of the markets by 0.01 seconds
Watchdog warns on crypto scams
The FCA in May said crypto and currency investment scam reports more than tripled last year to over 1,800.
It said: ‘Fraudsters often use social media to promote their “get rich quick” online trading platforms.
‘Posts often use fake celebrity endorsements and images of luxury items like expensive watches and cars. These then link to professional-looking websites where consumers are persuaded to invest.
‘Investors will often be led to believe that their first investment has successfully made a profit. The fraudster will then contact the victim to invest more money or introduce friends and family with the false promise of greater profits.
‘However, eventually the returns stop, the customer account is closed and the scammer disappears with no further contact.’
This is likely the reason behind the request for the initial £250 deposit, which Bitcoin Revolution assures you you can get back at any time.
The FCA warns that in the case of crypto scams investors are often asked for an initial deposit, which they are told has been successful, and then they are scammed out of a lot more money
One person in the legitimate cryptocurrency industry said they’d seen many of these celebrity-fronted scams, and described them as ‘incredibly frustrating from both an industry and marketing perspective’.
The FCA’s executive director of enforcement and market oversight Mark Steward said in May consumers needed to be suspicious of adverts promising high returns from online trading platforms.
‘Scammers can be very convincing so always do your own research into any firm you are considering investing with, to make sure that they are the real deal’, he said.
‘Before investing online find out how to protect yourself from scams by visiting the ScamSmart website, and if in any doubt – don’t invest.’
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