Cryptocurrency-related scams are increasing at an alarming rate all over the world. In 2017 alone, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Scamwatch service has received 1289 Bitcoin-related scam complaints, reported the ABC’s current affairs program 7:30.
The data obtained from the ACCC shows that scammers stole $1,218,206 from victims. The report elaborated that the most common complaints were related to investment scheme scams, ransomware, and malware scams, and “other” buying and selling scams.
Australian corporate regulator, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), has issued a warning to the potential investors about the increasing number of scams.
John Price, ASIC’s commissioner, told 7:30: “These are quite speculative products and they can be quite high-risk.”
“It’s been quite well documented that some of these products are scams, so please don’t invest unless you’re prepared to lose some or all of your money,” he added.
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Moreover, the report includes 15 Ethereum-related scams, 9 of which totalled $51,843.
The risky nature of the unregulated market for cryptocurrencies is driving Australian regulators to jump in. In December, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) received the go-ahead to monitor Australia’s bitcoin exchanges.
Moreover, from April 2018, every cryptocurrency exchange operating in Australia will have to register with the AUSTRAC.
The ABC publication quoted Angus Taylor, the new federal minister for cybersecurity: “We’ve had a lot of cooperation from the cryptocurrencies because they know they need to be legitimate, they know they need to be part of our financial system, and they know they don’t want to be facilitating illegal and criminal activity.”
It has almost been a decade since the inception of the digital currency, yet no regulator in the world has been successful in imposing proper regulatory rules on this wild market.
Mr. Taylor added: “We’ve acted early, we’ve acted much earlier than many other countries around the world…Obviously, cryptocurrencies are growing, and it’s appropriate that the Government establish a regulatory framework with a particular focus on criminal activity.”
Mentioning the risks associated with the anonymous nature of cryptocurrencies, AUSTRAC’s Brad Brown told 7:30: “There is a definite risk of digital currencies being misused for money laundering, terrorism financing and other serious crimes within the Australian environment.”