Crypto payments top investment scams
Stay on top of crypto news, get daily updates in your inbox.
Nearly 4,000 Australians reported using Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as a payment method to transfer funds to scammers in 2022, marking a significant increase of 162.4% compared to 2021.
These crypto transfers resulted in criminals obtaining as much as $148.4 million (AU$221.3 million), according to the latest report by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
To put that in perspective, Australians paid out a total of $56.3 million (AU$84 million) in 2021 and $20.5 million (AU$26.5 million) in cryptocurrencies to scammers in 2020.
Overall, Aussies lost a record $2.03 billion (AU$3.1 billion) to various scams in 2022, with investment scams accounting for more than 66% of all financial losses—an increase from 55% in 2021.
Continuing the trend first observed in 2021, cryptocurrencies once again were the most common payment method for investment scams, with criminals receiving $92.37 million (AU$137.6 million) in digital assets in 2022. Bank transfers followed, with a total of $66.46 million (AU$99 million) lost to these scams.
Per the report, the typical victim of an investment scam is a male residing in New South Wales, aged 65 years or above.
Another notable observation is that many fraudulent investment schemes emerge when an individual’s new online acquaintance or romantic partner proposes to offer assistance with investing.
The report added that scammers may invest a significant amount of time in building a relationship with the victims before discussing their own investing accomplishments. After establishing trust, the perpetrator will guide the victim to invest their funds and help them create an account on a cryptocurrency platform.
Commenting on the report, ACCC Deputy Chair Catriona Lowe said that “scammers evolve quickly and unfortunately, many Australians are losing their life savings.”
“We have seen alarming new tactics emerge which make scams incredibly difficult to detect,” said Lowe. “This includes everything from impersonating official phone numbers, email addresses, and websites of legitimate organizations to scam texts that appear in the same conversation thread as genuine messages. This means now more than ever, anyone can fall victim to a scam.”