Belgium’s Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA) has added 14 new websites to its growing list of websites flagged as cryptocurrency investment scam platforms. The number of websites on the list now stands at 113 with the new additions as the regulator continues its ongoing effort to protect Belgian investors from the relatively new and fast growing threat of crypto scams.
To underscore the seriousness of the threat, since 2016 the FSMA has taken the unusual step of issuing a series of written warnings to local investors specifically warning them to keep their money away from any schemes advertised on the 113 websites that are named and shamed on its blacklist. In July 2016, CCN reported that the FSMA issued one such statement advising investors against putting their money into OneCoin, a cryptocurrency ponzi scheme that was once popular across parts of Europe and Asia.
FSMA Takes Gloves Off
According to the latest FSMA statement, the newly added 14 websites are named as:
This statement becomes the third investment advisory notice against cryptocurrency scams to be issued by the FSMA in 2018 alone following prior statements in February and October, with the continued adoption of cryptocurrencies making them a favoured vehicle for cybercriminals in Belgium and across Europe and Asia. The regulator points out in the statement that despite the vastly varying claims and sales tacticsemployed by such scams, the basics remain constant – efforts to inspire investor confidence using purported experts followed by inevitable disappointment and loss.
Explaining this in detail the statement says:
The principle remains the same: they offer you an investment they claim is secure, easy and very lucrative. They try to inspire confidence by assuring you that you don’t need to be an expert in cryptocurrencies in order to invest in them. They claim to have specialists who will manage your investments for you. You are told that your funds can be withdrawn at any time or that they are guaranteed. In the end, the result is always the same: the victims find themselves unable to recover their money!
In addition to public investment warnings against such schemes, the FSMA has also updated the blacklist five times previously in 2018 as cybercriminals exploit the perceived lack of regulatory uniformity across the EU to push ponzi schemes and bogus investment programs that accept cryptocurrency deposits from investors.
Recent events however indicate that the era of regulatory disparity within the EU may be close to an end, as the world’s largest free trade area contemplates setting up a common regulatory regime which could give rise to a North American-style unified anti-fraud task force in the cryptocurrency space.