Australians have lost nearly $26 million (£20 million) to cryptocurrency frauds in the first six months of 2018, making crypto cons the second-ranking consumer scam in the country, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
“The rise in popularity in cryptocurrency trading has not been missed by scammers who are latching onto this new trend to con people,” says ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard.
“These are similar to any other investment scams – the scammer will claim to have inside knowledge about price movements they will use to make you a fortune. If you invest, your money will quickly disappear.”
The ACCC runs a website called Scamwatch, on which victims of Ponzi schemes post their reports, many of which are still being verified by Australian authorities.
In comparison to 2017, crypto scams have increased. The $26 million lost this year is 84% of all losses to frauds reported in 2017. ACCC estimates that Australians will lose about $74 million (£56 million) to cryptocurrency scams in 2018, compared to $48 million (£36.5 million) in 2017.
The Scamwatch data shows that the most vulnerable people are between the ages of 45 and 64.
“The losses to investment scams are horrific. Each week the ACCC receives heartbreaking accounts of people losing hundreds of thousands, and in some cases millions, of dollars,” Rickard states.