Bank of Ireland said today it had seen a 164% jump in investment scams during the last six months of the year as it warned that people are being duped out of significant sums of money.
Investment fraud accounted for 80% of personal customer losses in July, Bank of Ireland said, adding that these losses range from €2,000 right up to €800,000.
According to the bank, fraudsters try to con people out of their money by offering high interest returns on a range of investments, particularly in cryptocurrency.
Fraudsters, which try to pose as legitimate firms in a range of ways, offer these investments by telephone call, text message, email, letter or even through home visits.
A common tactic is to promise very high returns and then put people under pressure to commit to the investment opportunity quickly, Bank of Ireland explained.
The bank said that the con artisits try to pose as legitimate companies by developing professional looking websites, producing documents which appear to set out the details of the "investment".
They can also offer investors a dedicated page on a website where they can check on their "investment".
These are all false however, and the fraudsters' goal is simple - to steal any money handed over - Bank of Ireland added.
The bank said people can protect themselves from such scams by always seeking independent financial and legal advice before making any investments, while they should remain wary of cryptocurrency investment ads and ignore "pop-up" ads.
The bank also said that investments that appear to be endorsed by celebrities turn up all the time and the celebrities most likely do not know their name is attached to the advertisement.
Bank of Ireland also said that people should never make a snap decision and should never get rushed into a decision.
It also says that people should only use regulated entities.
All financial services providers which hold an authorisation from the Central Bank, or where applicable, the ECB's Single Supervisory Mechanism, to provide financial services in Ireland are listed in the Central Bank of Ireland Register.
People should never disclose security details, such as their PIN or full banking password, and do not download any applications that allow others access to your device or computer, the bank cautions.
"Fraudsters often use reputable and familiar remote access applications to dupe you into allowing remote access to your device/computer and, in turn, your personal information," Bank of Ireland said.
"Be suspicious of unsolicited calls, emails or SMS messages. Listen to your instincts - if something doesn't feel right then stop and question it," it concludes.
Edel McDermott, Head of Fraud at Bank of Ireland, said that an investor who falls victim to fraudsters and hands over money is unlikely to see their money again as the funds are quickly moved onwards to offshore accounts, for example, meaning little chance of retrieving funds.
"By being aware of how these false firms turn up and the tactics that they use, consumers and investors can take steps to protect themselves against fraud and financial loss," she added.