The Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) has released a public advisory warning the public about an increase in the spate of digital asset fraud. The warning is part of the broader Scams Awareness Week to draw attention to all scams targeted at Australians.
ASIC categorized digital asset scams into three arms, the first involving investing in fake digital asset websites or applications and the second using fake digital asset tokens. The third category of scams are schemes that involve digital assets to make payments which ASIC notes have cost Australians over A$701 million in losses.
“Given this concerning trend, we want to arm Australians with the information they need to protect themselves from scammers,” said ASIC Deputy Chair Sarah Court.
The advisory warns that receiving an offer out of the blue and using celebrity endorsement are signs that a potential investment could be a scam. An online romantic partner asking for funds in digital assets and pressure to transfer digital currencies to another website are telltale signs of a classic scam.
ASIC warns that the appearance of strange tokens in citizens’ digital wallets, the promise of guaranteed returns, and the use of a platform that is not listed on the Google Play Store or Apple Store are tactics regularly employed by scammers. Court warns that individuals who have fallen victim to fraud must seize the initiative to prevent further losses.
“Do not delay. Contact your bank or financial institution immediately to report the scam. Ask them to stop any transactions. Also, warn your family and friends so they can watch out for potential follow-up scams,” said Court.
Australia is quickly becoming a favorite for scammers
Australia has had its fair share of digital asset scams, with the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) predicting that the country could lose up to 4 billion in losses before the end of the year. The consumer protection agency has received $10 million in funding to establish a National Anti-Scam Center to assist in stifling the activities of bad actors.
Some Australians have decried the passiveness of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn over the spike in scam adverts littering the platforms. This formed the basis of the case against Facebook instituted by billionaire Andrew Forrest for fraudulent advertisements that used his image on the platform.
“This action is being taken on behalf of those everyday Australians—mums and dads, grans and grandads—who work all their lives to gather their savings and to ensure those savings aren’t swindled away by scammers,” said Forrest. “I’m acting here for Australians, but this is happening all over the world.”
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