Australians are warned that the boom in cryptocurrency trading has been accompanied by the explosive growth of sophisticated scams targeting investors eager to get rich.
As Bitcoin hit a record high this week of $ 85,000 and the leading cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase is listed on the Nasdaq – marking a major milestone for digital currencies – the amount of money lost to online scams has never been so high.
Australians’ losses from cryptocurrency investment scams in 2021 are set to double last year, according to data from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
In 2019, $ 21 million in losses were reported, rising to $ 27.9 million last year. In the first three months of 2021, Australians lost $ 16.5 million due to fraudulent investment opportunities in digital currencies.
Fraudulent investments are a popular type of cryptocurrency scam and can be presented to people by deceptive partners on dating apps, bogus businesses, and with the use of online ads using fake celebrity endorsements. People will usually be directed to a seemingly legitimate website describing the investment opportunities.
Under the scam model, people will be promised extremely attractive returns on their investment. The initial investments will appear to produce attractive returns, which in turn will encourage increased liabilities. Once a significant amount of money was paid, the crooks cut off access to the account and all communication.
Other scams and threats involve job and money mule scams, bogus giveaways, sextortion, using malware to access people’s finances, and getting out of scams that collect money. funds for initial coin offerings in new cryptocurrencies and then disappear.
Australian Federal Police Acting Superintendent Tom Walker said scammers were casting a wide net and playing a numbers game using social media, spam and other media. Vulnerable members of society, including those who have become unemployed, are particularly at risk.
“It’s not that these people are necessarily targeted specifically, but because they are vulnerable they are more likely to want to engage,” he said.