Peter Sagan has been forced to deny his involvement in a cryptocurrency scam after a fake news article appeared online, claiming he had invested in the scheme.
The former three-time world champion shared a link to an article which falsely claimed he had invested €1.5 million (around £1.2 million) in an automatic cryptocurrency trading programme.
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In the Slovakian language article, which claims to be from a non-existent news organisation called Momentalny but has a different URL, the author has included quotes from a fictional interview with Slovakian star Sagan, which includes quotes like “I encourage everyone to see it before the banks forbid it” and “you may doubt it, because it sounds good enough to be possible.”
In a statement on Twitter, Bora-Hansgrohe rider Sagan said: “I categorically deny having any involvement in any form, in what is mentioned in this article.
“I have never been in contact with any of the persons or companies mentioned and any allegation to the contrary is false.”
The fake news article, which carries the byline of the father of a murdered Slovakian journalist, links to a pop-up advert for cryptocurrency software, including fake quotes from the likes of Microsoft founder Bill Gates.
Criminals have been known to use fake celebrity endorsements for cryptocurrency scams, which has seen victims lose up to £200,000.
The fake articles are made to look like reports from reputable news outlets.
In 2019, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK revealed more than £27 million had been lost to cryptocurrency and forex trading scams in one year, with victims losing £14,600 on average.
Reports also tripled on the previous year, reaching 1,800 in 2018/19.
Executive director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA, Mark Steward, said: “We’re warning the public to be suspicious of adverts which promise high returns from online trading platforms.
“Scammers can be very convincing, so always do your own research into any firm you are considering investing with to make sure they are the real deal.”