Sticky note showing Phishing SCAM

Australian regulators team up to combat digital assets scam sites

Two Australian market regulators—the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC)—have partnered to combat digital assets scams.

The two regulators who oversee Australian consumer protection and the corporate sector, respectively, have jointly deployed countermeasures services offered by U.K.-based Netcraft to automatically take down websites hosting phishing and other scams on a trial basis.

ACCC chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb disclosed the partnership while speaking at the Law Council of Australia’s 2022 consumer rights forum, as reported by Australian technology news outlet IT News. The trail has been successful since dozens of scam sites have been taken down already, Cass-Gottlieb said.

She added that over 300 sites reported to the ACCC’s Scamwatch, and the ASIC were submitted to the service. The sites were found to be mostly phishing sites impersonating Australian businesses and government authorities, as well as “puppy scams, shoe scams, cryptocurrency investment scams, and tech support scams.”

“Direct protection of consumers through disrupting scam websites at their source is a powerful addition to arming consumers with knowledge about scams. I am very pleased the ACCC is conducting this work,” Cass-Gottlieb said.

Netcraft has been offering similar services to the U.K.’s National Cyber Security Centre for four years. They also perform takedowns for four of the 10 most phished companies.

Meanwhile, the ACCC chair also highlighted that the private sector and the telecommunications industry have to play their part in helping the regulator in “disrupting scams.” While they wait for codes to be developed for specific cases, they should be taking steps to prevent phishing attacks, she said.

Rising spate of cybercrimes in Australia prompting regulatory actions

In its June report, the ACCC estimated that scams robbed Australians of more than $2 billion by 2021. According to a Bloomberg report, during the same year, there were 67,500 documented cybercrime incidents in the country, equating to one crime committed every 8 minutes.

ACCC and ASIC have not been the only regulators cracking down on the anomaly. In April, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) released two guidelines for businesses to follow to protect themselves and their clients from cybercrime.

The guidelines included steps to identify criminal abuse of digital asset payments such as tax evasion, money laundering, scams, and purchasing products on the darknet, as well as how to identify and stop ransomware payments.

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