Australian Crypto Scam Reports Rose Almost 200% in 2018

Criminals are impersonating police or Telstra staff claiming the victim's computer has already been hacked by scammers and they can help track them down. Source Getty file

Criminals are impersonating police or Telstra staff claiming the victim's computer has already been hacked by scammers and they can help track them down. Source Getty file

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) reveals in the latest report that the cryptocurrency scammers in the state have been flourishing in 2017 and 2018, in spite of an abysmal bearish market.

Upon the consumer's attempts for taking out profits, the scams went missing most of the time. The frauds have begun to use innovative financial technology as the watchdogs are setting too many hurdles for doing that with authorised money.

"Scammers are using pressure and fear tactics combined with technology to trick people into parting with their money", Rickard said. "For example, victims may be unable to obtain a new driver's licence, which means the cycle of identity theft and recovery continues over many years".

Majority of the victims were targeted by the investment scams where they have urged to purchase digital currencies or requested to make payment for forex trading, commodity trading, and different investment opportunities. This resulted in increased losses for "remote access scams" in 2018 making it the fourth scam by reported loss. Hacking scams resulted in a $3.1 million reported loss after 8,625 scams reported.

In comparison to AU$2.1 million ($1.48 million) loss in 2017, there has been a substantial rise despite the industry-wide slump in cryptocurrency prices. This is an 18 per cent increase over 2017 which totalled $90.9 million.

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Regardless of ample loss of the funds by the investors, this was just a bit of what was historically lost in outmoded scams.

Targeting Scams revealed increased losses reported to Scamwatch and other government agencies in 2018 compared to the prior year. One was a text message-based phishing scam in which scammers presented themselves as "MyGov" or "Medicare" and stated the recipient was owed a rebate.

Various government agencies are now calling on social media platforms and telecommunications providers to do more to limit scammers' abilities to reach victims. Victims were told that to receive the rebate, they had to first pay a small processing fee.

Automated phone calls were a big issue in 2018, with a spike in reports of an automated ATO impersonation scam which threatened people with arrest for unpaid taxes.

By February this year more than $1 million had already been lost to romance scams, with scammers increasingly targeting Tinder and Viber users as well as those on social media, according to Scamwatch.

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