The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) published a report revealing that more than a thousand Australians were victims of specifically cryptocurrency-related scams in the year 2017, losing a total of AU$2.1 million. The losses were incurred through a combination of ransom attacks, fake ICOs, pyramid schemes, and more.
However, the AU$2.1 million is not even a full percentage point of the AU$340 million total that was stolen by scammers throughout 2017. Of the AU$340 million, the largest chunk (AU$64 million) was lost to investment scams; online dating-related scams followed at AU$42 million.
“Some scams are becoming very sophisticated and hard to spot. Scammers use modern technology like social media to contact and deceive their victims. In the past few years, reports indicate scammers are using aggressive techniques both over the phone and online,“ said ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard.
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The report, entitled “Targeting Scams: Report of the ACCC on Scams Activity 2017”, noted a significant and direct correlation between the meteoric rise of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies throughout Q4 2017 and the amount of money lost to scammers.
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According to the ACCC, this is to be expected: “scammers adapt each year and find ways to exploit popular trends, new platforms, new ways of communicating, fad products, changes to legislation, or new investment opportunities,” the report said.
”Just the Tip of the Iceberg”
The numbers are rather startling. From January to September 2017, total losses incurred were roughly AU$100,000; however, more than AU$700,000 were reported stolen in December alone.
The total rise in stolen funds is, of course, echoed in average individual losses. In January 2017, the average victim lost roughly AU$1,885; in December, that figure had risen to $13,205.
“As with other scams, this is likely the very tip of the iceberg,” the report said.