Financial scams have more than doubled in the last six months, with fraudsters increasingly using fake cryptocurrency schemes to lure unwitting investors.

esearch from Bank of Ireland shows a 164pc increase in investment scams in the last six months, with fraud accounting for 80pc of customer losses.

Losses range from €2,000 up to €800,000, Bank of Ireland said Thursday.

“People will always look for ways to invest their money and maximise returns. That is to be expected,” said Bank of Ireland’s head of fraud, Edel McDermott. “But in this and all things, stop and think – if something looks too good to be true then it is too good to be true.

“Fraudsters draw people in by promising huge returns, and then tell them they have to act quickly in order to invest. This tactic is seeing more people losing large sums of money, on supposed ‘investments’ in cryptocurrencies, bonds or shares that don’t actually exist.

“An investor who falls victim to these 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.”

Bank of Ireland has advised customers to always seek independent financial and legal advice before making any investments.

Customers aloud “be wary” of advertisements, especially website pop-ups for cryptocurrency investments, which are often “endorsed” by celebrities who may not know their names are being used.

Customers should also be suspicious of unsolicited calls, emails, letters or text messages.

The bank says customers should take their time when making decisions.

Before handing over any money, people should check whether the firm is a regulated entity listed in the Central Bank of Ireland register.

Bank of Ireland has warned customers not to give away their banking PIN or other security details, as fraudsters often try to dupe people into allowing them to gain remote access to devices.