In 2022, cryptocurrency scams in Australia increased significantly, accounting for 7.1% of the total $2.08 billion stolen from Australians. A staggering 221.3 million Australian dollars ($148.3 million) were lost due to investment scams that used cryptocurrency as payment. That marks a 162.4% increase from the previous year.
The Australian Report on Cryptocurrency Scams
On April 17, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) released a scam activity report revealing that 3,910 crypto scam incident reports were filed in 2022. The average Australian victim lost AU$ 56,600 ($37,900) to these scams. The $148.3 million figure constitutes 7.1% of the total AU$ 3.1 billion ($2.08 billion) of the year’s reported scams in Australia.
Bank transfers remained the most effective scam payment method, with almost 13,100 reports amounting to $141 million. Interestingly, this was $7.3 million less than what was lost to crypto scams.
The average bank transfer scam amounted to about AU$ 16,000 ($10,700) per incident. In comparison, crypto scammers managed to swindle 250% more value from each victim.
The data revealed that crypto scammers primarily contacted victims through social media and networking apps, while bank payment scammers tended to use phones and email.
ACCC Deputy Chair Catriona Lowe on the Rising Scam Tactics
In a statement on April 17, ACCC Deputy Chair Catriona Lowe attributed the spike in scams to new technologies that facilitate increasingly sophisticated tactics to lure and deceive victims.
She expressed concern over the emergence of alarming new tactics that make scams incredibly difficult to detect. These tactics include impersonating official phone numbers, email addresses, websites of legitimate organizations, and scam texts that appear in the same conversation thread as genuine messages.
Lowe emphasized that the “true cost” of the damage caused by scams extends beyond the financial loss, as they also inflict emotional distress on victims, their families, and businesses.
Lowe explained that the Australian government, law enforcement, and the private sector must strengthen collaboration to combat scams more effectively and reduce the numbers.
The Typical Investment Scam Victim in Australia
According to data from the ACCC’s Scamwatch database, Australia’s average investment scam victim is a 65-year-old man who was either contacted on social media or responded to a fraudulent advertisement. These individuals are often entangled in the scam for several months before realizing they have been deceived.
Imposter bond offers, initial public offerings (IPOs), relationship or pig butchering schemes, and money recovery services are among the most frequently reported investment scams.
The ACCC’s report acknowledged that scam losses are likely much higher than reported, as approximately 30% of scam victims do not report the incident to anyone. Furthermore, only 13% of victims report the incident to Scamwatch.
By staying informed and vigilant, individuals can help combat the growing threat of cryptocurrency scams in Australia and protect themselves from falling victim to such malicious schemes.
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