Business

Steve Kaaru

Crypto scams in Australia up 190% in 2018, losses exceed $4M

Despite the extensive campaigns to sensitize crypto holders against crypto scams, fraudsters are still making a killing, especially in Australia. According to a report by the country’s Competition and Consumer Commission, in 2018, there were 674 reported scams involving cryptos. Losses from these cases exceeded AUD6.1 million (US$4.3 million), the report indicated. This is a 190 percent rise from the AUD2.1 million (US$1.5 million) in losses reported in 2017.

In 2017, crypto scams took off as popularity of digital currencies took off globally. In Australia, such scams hit a fever pitch in the final months of the year, the report revealed. However, the losses in 2017 pale in comparison to last year’s, when fraudsters made a killing targeting gullible investors in the country.

The scam category that most fraudsters used was investment scams. They lured investors with promises of incredible returns, only to take off with their money. Investors lost AUD2.6 million (US$1.8 million) in investment scams in 2018, the report revealed.

However, this wasn’t the only method used. The report continued:

“Scamwatch has also received reports from victims of various types of scams being directed by a scammer to the nearest Bitcoin automatic teller machine to convert money to Bitcoin and then transfer it to the scammer.”

The report also revealed that an overwhelming majority of the victims were men aged between 25 and 34. Further, in over 80 percent of the cases, the fraudsters used an online mode of communication, with social media being the outright leader.

Fraudsters in Australia went a step further, inducing their victims to engaging in money laundering without their knowledge. In one case, the victim applied for an online job as an ‘Assistant Manager’ for an ‘international business that operated online.’ The salary was a lucrative AUD2,200 (US$1,550).

After getting the job, the victim was given a few tasks. The first was to receive funds in his bank account and then deposit the money on a Bitcoin Core (BTC) ATM in his city. He did this three times, handling large amounts of money.

However, shortly after, his bank contacted him informing him that his account had been blocked as he was found to be involved in money laundering. He is currently cooperating with authorities to clear his name.

As we reported earlier this month, scammers in Australia had been preying on their victims using Facebook. However, despite receiving several complaints about the scam, Facebook had refused to take any action.

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