Australians have continued to count their losses as many have reportedly fallen victim to various investment scams.
According to a press release issued by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Investment scams reported to Scamwatch have cost Australians over $70 million in the first half of this year. This figure surpassed the total reported losses for 2020, according to the ACCC.
The rise in the popularity of cryptocurrencies remains the most prevalent avenue through which Australians get scammed. Of these, the scams involving Bitcoin is the most dominant.
“Investment scams are more prevalent than ever, and scammers are capitalising on interest in cryptocurrency in particular,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.
“More than half of the $70 million in losses were to cryptocurrency, especially through Bitcoin, and cryptocurrency scams were also the most commonly reported type of investment scam, with 2,240 reports.”
The proposition of investment opportunities with good earning potentials has always been the enticing factor used to lure investors. Capital lost from Bitcoin scams topped $25.7 million this year, compared to $17.8 million across 2020, representing an increase of 44 per cent.
“Be wary of investment opportunities with low risk and high returns. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” Ms Rickard said.
According to the report, losses incurred through Ponzi schemes and imposter bond scams were also popular. According to the government-backed report platform, ScamWatch, approximately 58 and 400 reports were made for both scams routes in the first half of the year.
Fraudulent activities involving cryptocurrencies are ever prevalent. Beyond Australia, such frauds typically involve Initial Coin Offering scams, such as the case of AML BitCoin lobbyist Jack Abramoff. With the pseudo-anonymous nature of digital currencies, their use in cyber fraud is bound to keep being a threat. Many security firms are building tools to help monitor and expose these illicit activities.
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