Two Suffolk residents have fallen victim to an online scam that targets Instagram users with fraudulent investment schemes.

According to Suffolk Trading Standards, criminals have been targeting the county's residents on the social media platform.

One victim was encouraged to invest into a Bitcoin investment scheme in which they would get a quick return on an £80 investment.

The other paid £500 into what they thought was a cryptocurrency investment scheme.

In both instances, as soon as the money was paid, the scammer blocked the victims so that no further contact could be made.

Following these incidents, Trading Standards has released a warning so that other Suffolk residents do not become victims.

The government body said fraudsters approach victims via the instant messaging feature on Instagram after advertising their service.

They claim to only require an initial investment of a few hundred pounds which will then be used to trade on the stock market or to buy and trade foreign currency.

They promise to multiply the investment several times within a matter of days which will then be paid back to the victim after a small commission is deducted for the service.

In reality, once the initial investment has been transferred, the victim is given a series of excuses as to why the money cannot be returned unless more money is sent.

Eventually, all contact is severed with the victim.

The fraudsters are said to target a younger demographic, between ages 20 and 30, who have less savings and are financially vulnerable or seeking a quick and easy way to make money.

Instagram users are being advised to spot the signs and protect themselves.

These are:

  • Never respond to any requests to send money, or have money transferred through your account, by someone you don't know and trust.
  • Don't be rushed into making an investment. Legitimate organisations will never pressure you into making a transaction on the spot.
  • Speak with a trusted friend or family member and seek independent professional advice before making significant financial decisions.
  • Use the Financial Conduct Authority's (FCA) register to check if the company is regulated by the FCA. If you deal with a firm or individual that isn't regulated, you may not be covered by the Financial Ombudsman Service if things go wrong and you lose your money.