A warning has been issued to anyone tempted by crypto investments as the cost of living crisis continues to stretch finances across the UK.

A scam warning has been issued over fake investments with a growing number of investment scam complaints  being seen by the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

The service says many of these complaints involve cryptocurrency.

The scams involve unsuspecting victims being persuaded to buy crypto through a legitimate intermediary and then sending money to what they believe is a genuine investment platform which is often operated by fraudsters.

Crypto scams costing victims hundreds of thousands

The ombudsman service said it has seen examples of consumers being scammed out of tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Nausicaa Delfas, interim chief executive and chief ombudsman at the FOS, said: “We are concerned that, in current economic circumstances, people could be tempted to invest in fake investments.

“Our advice to consumers is be wary, conduct their own research, check the FCA register and contact the firm directly on the number listed.

“If people feel they have been treated unfairly by their bank, they should contact the Financial Ombudsman Service, and we will see whether we can help.”

Is cryptocurrency safe?

Martin Lewis addressed cryptocurrency on The Martin Lewis Money Show last year where he specifically mentioned Bitcoin but the warning applies to any form of online cash.

He said: "Bitcoin is set up as a currency – a non-governmental currency – so you're meant to be able to spend it, but I'm presuming you're thinking of this not to spend but more as an investment, which is what most people are looking at.

"First of all, is it safe? Well, some people have lost money in their wallets. Like gold it can be stolen, and cryptocurrency is a bit like an equivalent to gold as it's a store of value of what people are putting in. You have to be very careful."

He added: "As to whether it's any good – I don't talk about investing. The thing about investing – and Bitcoin is an investment – is that prices go up and prices go down. With Bitcoin, they go up massively and they go down massively. And the reason for stressing that so much is that you can make a fortune, but you may lose a fortune.

"So, if you can't afford to lose the money that you put in, then do not invest in it. It's a gamble, like all forms of stocks and shares, and all forms of investment and putting money in gold. That's your choice, but if you do it the right way the investment should work for you, but it doesn't mean you won't lose money though."