Australia: Crypto Scams Surge by 162%, $150 Million Lost

Lavina Daryanani

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission [ACCC] recently released a report highlighting how citizens lost a record high of 3.1 billion AUD [$2.08 billion] to scams in 2022. From the total amount of loss, crypto accounted for a substantial part.

Specifically, Australians lost 221.3 million AUD [$148.3 million] in investment scams where crypto was used as the payment method. The aforementioned figure marked a 162.4% incline from the previous year. In fact, it made up for 7.1% of the total scams reported in Australia for 2022. In all, around 3,910 crypto scam incident reports were made in aggregate, while an average Australian victim lost about 56,600 AUD [$37,900].

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The report pointed out,

“People who lost money via cryptocurrency were more likely to have been contacted via social networking or mobile app.”

Pig-butchering scams were a common trend last year. According to the ACCC report, coaxers usually build relationships for a long period of time before talking about their success with investing. Then,

Once trust is established, the scammer will coach the victim to invest their money and assist them to set up an account on a cryptocurrency platform.”

The report added,

“In 2022, many high-loss investment scams occurred in the context of a long-term friendship or relationship that commenced on social media or a dating application.

Employment-related scams also saw an increase last year. The report highlighted that most financial losses were experienced by people who were contacted via social media or mobile applications. Under this category,

“Most payments were made via cryptocurrency (AU $4.8 million) followed by bank transfer (AU $3.4 million).”

Ultimate aim is to make Australia the “hardest” target for scammers: ACCC Deputy Chair

Well, millions of Australians became vulnerable to scams in 2022. ACCC Deputy Chair Catriona Lowe said in a recent statement that scammers are “the most opportunistic of all criminals.” Unfortunately, the more information a scammer has about a user, the more convincing they can be, she cautioned. Lowe said,

“As scammers become increasingly sophisticated in their tactics, it is clear a coordinated response across government, law enforcement, and the private sector is essential to combat scams more effectively.”

She added,

”That’s why we continue to lend our expertise and support to prepare for the establishment of the Government’s National Anti-Scam Centre, with the ultimate aim of making Australia the hardest target for scammers.”

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