Digital currency scams on the rise in New Zealand

Two New Zealand government agencies have launched an awareness campaign after seeing a rise in reports of digital currency-related investment scams targeting Pacific communities.

In a statement, the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) said it has seen a “steady increase in complaints about a variety of scams since the beginning of March. The most-reported scam was a cryptocurrency campaign on social media using fake news articles and false celebrity endorsements to promote Bitcoin investments.”

Recently, many governments around the world have reported an increase in digital currency-related scams. Coronavirus has confined a majority of the world’s population to their home, which, unfortunately, gives scammers opportunities and time to defraud unsuspecting individuals, and creates more opportunities and time for consumers to unknowingly come across scams.

New Zealand’s financial regulator says that the most popular scams take place on social media, and use fake news articles and celebrity endorsements to rope individuals into fraudulent digital currency investment opportunities. This scam is not new, recently, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission charged three individuals for conducting a similar scam in the United States and Israel. 

The awareness campaign

The FMA and Commerce Commission, the government agency responsible for enforcing legislation that promotes competition in the country’s markets and prohibits misleading and deceptive conduct by traders, are combating these scams through an awareness campaign taking place via web pages and radio advertisements. The agencies have emphasized making sure the awareness campaign reaches the Pacific regions of their country.

“The ads will play on popular Pacific radio stations and supporting resources will be in Samoan and Tongan, the two most widely spoken Pacific languages in New Zealand,” according to the FMA. “Although scammers don’t discriminate, targeting Kiwis of all ethnicities, there are certain scams that have been aimed specifically towards Pacific communities. We saw the OneCoin pyramid scheme proliferate through Pacific social and community groups. Last year the FMA also reiterated its warning that Skyway Group (or SWIG) may be involved in a scam and was targeting Pacific groups.”

Scammers have been keen to target the Pacific communities in New Zealand. In the past, two digital currency-related scams quickly spread throughout the pacific communities. That being said, the FMA and Commerce Commission are making sure their awareness campaign is received and well-spread in those areas.

Be aware, do your own research

The New Zealand awareness campaign is the most recent step taken by a government to warn of digital currency related-scams. But it is not a bad time to remind the world to be on the lookout for digital currency-related fraud and scams. 

The FMA’s press release ends with a message that applies to everyone, regardless of whether they are located in New Zealand or not.

“The key overarching message for anyone thinking about investing money is to do your own research into the person or company offering the investment.”

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