Martin Lewis being used by criminals to con people out of their cash

To try and convince people to put money into their dodgy schemes, criminals are creating fake websites and sending emails pretending to be news stories.

Designed to look almost identical to real news sites like the Mirror or BBC, the fake stories follow a similar pattern – a high-profile celebrity or business person explaining in an interview why Bitcoin is amazing.

The article contains a link to "invest" in the "opportunity" yourself.

Martin Lewis is frequently the person "interviewed" in the fake stories, but criminals will pick anyone they think might convince you from Dragon's Den stars like Deborah Meaden to past Apprentice winners, businessmen like Bill Gates or TV presenters to con you.

But it's all a lie and it's getting worse.

"We've seen a spike in reports from MoneySavers who've received emails using Martin Lewis' image to advertise Bitcoin trading – but Martin NEVER endorses products, and nor does MoneySavingExpert.com, so don't be fooled," MoneySavingExpert.com reported .

"But we've seen increased reports of scam emails using Martin's name and image to push Bitcoin schemes, with 28 people telling us they've received the ads over a 24-hour period."

The Mirror has been warning people about the scammers for well over a year as well as acting to get the sites shut down whenever it sees one.

Martin Lewis even took Facebook to court after ads appeared on its network promoting them – resulting in a new scam reporting took being deployed by the social network.

But worryingly, it seems to be working sometimes.

"Since it came from a respected publication such as the Mirror and had a credible figure attached, we assumed that this was a legitimate opportunity. We went to the company's website as directed and registered," one reader told us.

Fortunately, they realised it wasn't legitimate before putting any money in, but didn't escape entirely unscathed – with the scammers repeatedly calling them to follow up.

We're working hard to get them taken down, as is MoneySavingExpert.com, so if you see one you can report it to us here , or send an email on to [email protected] .

FCA's ScamSmart campaign has the following tips to help people beat investment scams:

Do not assume it is real – Professional-looking websites, adverts or social media posts do not always mean that an investment opportunity is genuine. Criminals can use the names of well-known brands or people to make their scams appear legitimate.

Stay in control – Avoid uninvited investment offers whether made on social media or over the phone. If you are thinking about making an investment, thoroughly research the company first and consider getting independent advice.

Make the right checks – Firms providing regulated financial services must be authorised by the FCA. You can check whether they are authorised on the FCA's register. Use the contact details on the register, not the details the firm gives you, to avoid "clones".

Report it – If you have been a victim of fraud or cyber crime, report it to Action Fraud .

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