Australians lost AUD 6.1 million (around $4.3 million) in crypto-related scams pulled off in 2018, according to a report published by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
Though fraudsters demanding digital assets from their victims is not new in the country, the figures soared 190 percent as in the previous year the market watchdog reported a loss of only AUD 2.1 million (about $1.48 million) in crypto scams.
In total, 674 cases of digital asset-related scams were registered with the ACCC and other government agencies.
The tenth annual “Targeting Scams” report detailed that online scammers generally tricked victims to purchase digital assets through compromised platforms.
“These investment scams also included scammers asking for payment in cryptocurrency for forex trading, commodity trading or other investment opportunities. In 2018, victims of ‘investment scams’ reported losing $2.6 million through payments in cryptocurrencies,” the ACCC noted.
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Victims in investment scams lost AUD 2.6 million (around $1.83 million) in 2018 by paying in digital currencies.
Millennials – a vulnerable generation
Half of all the victims were men in the age group between 25 to 35 years, the report detailed.
Though crypto scams have a significant share in the total loss of AUD 19 million ($13.4 million), the majority of the scams were pulled off using remittance services like Western Union. AUD 4.3 million ($3.03 million) were lost in payouts using gift cards.
“To avoid the fraud and scam detection systems employed by banks, scammers are now increasingly asking for payment via unusual payment methods such as gift cards and cryptocurrencies,” the report stated.
Is it possible to stop crypto scams?
Last month, the country’s financial intelligence agency AUSTRAC shut the doors of two crypto exchanges operating in the country on suspicion of their link to organized crime rings.
Meanwhile, authorities all around the globe are busting many crypto-related scams. Earlier this month, South Korean authorities nabbed 12 people for running an $18 million worth Ponzi scheme with crypto.