Australians lose $242m to crypto and investment scams in 2022

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission highlights cost of crypto frauds to victims

Aerial view of Sydney including the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the city's opera house                                 
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has revealed a marked increase in crypto and investment scams – Photo: Shutterstock
                                

Australians have lost AUD242.5m ($166m) to investment scams in 2022, which include cryptocurrency swindles, according to the latest data from Scamwatch

The website, which is run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), provides information to small businesses and consumers on how to protect themselves against fraud. 

In a demonstration of the sheer acceleration in of crypto and investment frauds in Australia, the figure of AUD242.5m for January to July this year already represents a 36% increase on the total lost to investment scams in 2021 of AUD178.2m. 

Australians warned about risks of crypto investing

The reported increase may reflect the fact that Australian authorities have devoted increased funds and efforts to pursuing investment frauds, particularly cryptocurrency scams. 

On Sunday, Commissioner Sean Hughes, of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), stressed to Australians the need for caution when investing in cryptoassets. 

He said: “We want to be very clear and unambiguous in our messages to consumers entering the market. We think that crypto assets are highly volatile, inherently risky and complex.”

Police launched crypto transaction taskforce

Last month, the Australian Federal Police established a taskforce to monitor crypto-linked transactions. 

Acting Superintendent Michael Newman, of the Queensland Police Service FInancial Crime and Cyber Crime Group, spoke out about the proliferation of online cryptocurrency advertisements, particularly ones using the images of celebrities without permission. 

He added: “Actually investigating and prosecuting the person [who posts them] obviously becomes a lot more difficult, but we can start the prevention disruption work by actually having the obviously fake ads taken down.”

Australia is by no means alone in reporting substantial levels of investment fraud. In the past two weeks, both the US Federal Bureau of Investigations and the UK’s Financial Ombudsman Service warned of a rise in cryptocurrency-related scams.

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