Crypto Scams Become the Second Most Recognized Fraud by Investors in Australia

Australia’s consumer regulator mid-year review showed a significant rise in all reported fraudulent activities, and people possibly lost more than A$26 million through the end of June.

Ponzi schemes related to cryptocurrency now rank second among consumer scams in the so-called Scamwatch alert radar of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for the first half of 2018. The mid-year Scamwatch review, published on Monday, showed that consumers lost as much as $26 million to fraudulent activities, which represents 84% of the total loss reported for the whole of 2017.

The Scamwatch data was based on victim reports, which are still under a process of verification from authorities. The most vulnerable people were in the age 45-64 as they made up more than half of all reporters on Scamwatch.  According to the data, Australians lost A$4.3 million from scams every month of the first half of 2018 with cryptocurrency accounting for 123 out of 1796 investor reports, ACCC told Australia’s Stockhead news portal.

“The rise in popularity in cryptocurrency trading has not been missed by scammers who are latching onto this new trend to con people. These are similar to any other investment scams: the scammer will claim to have inside knowledge about price movements they will use to make you a fortune. If you invest, your money will quickly disappear,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said in the official statement.        

May was the month with most reports, 430, followed by April (342) and June (326). Traditional investment offerings such as stocks, real estate and commodities still accounted for the most reports.

“The losses to investment scams are horrific. Each week the ACCC receives heartbreaking accounts of people losing hundreds of thousands, and in some cases millions, of dollars,” Rickard said.

Along with ACCC, Australians also can report to the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) for online-specific scams. ACCC expects the combined reports for 2018 to reach A$100 million loss from possible Ponzi schemes, compared to A$64.6 million a year ago.