Over $250,000 worth of crypto scams with Musk's and Bezos' faces on them

Celebrity Scam Super League Table features names like David Attenborough and Piers Morgan.
Sejal Sharma
Jeff Bezos (left) and Elon Musk (right)
Jeff Bezos (left) and Elon Musk (right)

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NatWest, a British banking and insurance holding company, has released its annual Scam Super League Table for 2023, which has revealed the top seven highest-value fraud cases where pictures of celebrities have been used by fraudsters to scam people of hundreds and thousands of dollars.

Topping the list of celebrities whose names have been unknowingly exploited by criminals is Peter Jones, who is a ‘dragon’ investor on the BBC One show Dragon’s Den, a show which gives entrepreneurs three minutes to pitch their ideas to five investors.

At £285,209, it is the highest-value case that the NatWest bank had to deal with. Someone used Jones’ picture to promote an exclusive interview with a newspaper, and one unlucky Englishman who clicked on the article lost £285,209 ($352,649) in the scam.

Jones was closely followed by Sir David Attenborough, a British documentary broadcaster who probably has the most famous and recognizable voice on the planet. He was featured in a Twitter advertisement that claimed Attenborough made £125,000 ($156,213) from investing in stocks and shares related to natural gas, oil, and gold. Some poor guy fell victim to the scam and lost £275,551 ($343,861), as per the press release.

Others on the list included a Facebook-related scam that saw a £232,238 ($290,196) loss to someone who fell for a Piers Morgan advert. The next on the list is Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, whose identity was used to scam someone of £158,873 via a Google ad.

Also featured in the list is Twitter owner Elon Musk, whose photo was used to steal £42,500 ($52,545) from a victim who believed that Tesla's CEO had endorsed a crypto scheme, further said the press release.

Majority of these scam advertisements appeared on social media applications

In the press release, Stuart Skinner, NatWest Scam Expert, said, “Criminals are using some of the U.K.’s most trusted and respected celebrity images to steal millions of pounds. I’d urge you to be extremely cautious of fake celebrity investment adverts seen online. A cross-industry effort with social media companies is required to eradicate these ads.”

It appears that the majority of these scam advertisements appeared on social media applications, with Facebook and Twitter featured within the top seven cases in the ‘Scam Super League.’ Investment scams cost consumers £114.1m ($142.5m) in 2022, according to U.K. Finance, down 34% from the previous year.

In a bid to raise awareness and prevention of scams, the Natwest Group-owned Natwest Bank doesn’t even take on new customers who have heavily invested in cryptocurrencies. They view crypto as a risky investment.

“We have no appetite for dealing with customers, whether taking them on as new clients or having an ongoing relationship with people, whose main business is backed by an exchange for cryptocurrencies, or otherwise transacting in cryptocurrencies as their main activity,” said NatWest head of risk Morten Friis, as per a report by The Guardian.