Crypto Fraud in Australia Surges 162% With $150M in Losses


Cryptocurrency-related fraud in Australia has seen a dramatic increase with record losses of $148.3 million (AUD$221.3 million) tallied in 2022, a 162.4% rise from the previous year.

According to an April 17 scam activity report from the nation’s consumer regulator, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), 3,910 crypto scam incident reports were made and the average loss for each victim was $37,900 (AUD$56,600).

Cryptocurrency-based fraud made up 7.1% of the total scam value of $2.08 billion (AUD$3.1 billion) for the year. Bank transfer scams were still the most common method of fraud, but crypto fraudsters managed to steal 250% more from each victim.

According to the data, scams were mostly initiated through social media and networking apps, while bank payment scammers more often used phone and email as their primary contact method.

ACCC Deputy Chair Catriona Lowe attributed the surge in scams to new technologies making it easier for fraudsters to “lure and deceive victims” with increasingly “sophisticated” tactics:

“We have seen alarming new tactics emerge which make scams incredibly difficult to detect. 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,” she added.

Lowe further noted that the “true cost” of the damage is not priced in, as the figures do not include emotional distress to victims, their families and businesses.

“Australians lost more money to scams than ever before in 2022, but the true cost of scams is much more than a dollar figure as they also cause emotional distress to victims, their families and businesses.”

Lowe said that the government, law enforcement and the private sector need to work together to “combat” the scams more effectively and reduce the damage.

Related: Aussies revealed as prime targets of Israel crypto scam syndicate

Data from the ACCC’s scam database Scamwatch revealed that the average crypto fraud victim in Australia is a 65-year-old man who was contacted via social media or responded to a fraudulent advertisement. Victims are usually tied up in the scam for “several months” before realizing that they have been duped.

Imposter bond offers, initial public offerings (IPO), relationship or pig butchering schemes and money recovery services are among the most commonly reported investment scams.

The ACCC noted that reported losses are likely “far higher” since around 30% of scam victims do not report it to anyone, while only 13% of victims report the incident to Scamwatch.

ACCC’s Scamwatch, ReportCyber, the Australian Financial Crimes Exchange (AFCX) and other agencies provided data for the report.

Magazine: Unstablecoins: Depegging, bank runs and other risks loom

Related articles

Recent articles