Australians lost nearly A$2.1 million in crypto scams in 2017, as the popularity of cryptocurrencies peaked in the final quarter of the year.
Cryptocurrency prices surged in the final quarter of 2017, with Bitcoin hitting a high of around US$20,000.
“Between January and September 2017, about A$100,000 was reported lost per month to scams which had a cryptocurrency angle,” the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said in its latest “Targeting Scams” report.
“However, in the month of December 2017, reported losses to Scamwatch exceeded A$700,000 and the average reported loss had jumped from A$1885 in January to A$13,205.”
“As with other scams, this is likely the very tip of the iceberg,” the report added.
In 2017, the combined financial losses to scams reported to watchdogs and other government agencies totaled A$340 million, the report said.
Scams involving cryptocurrencies included fake ‘initial coin offerings’, while others capitalized on the general confusion about how cryptocurrency works. People also got caught up in pyramid schemes involving cryptocurrencies. And, there were also victims who entered into cryptocurrency-based scams through friends and family.
Then there were other schemes such as ransomware attacks, in which people were asked to make payments through cryptocurrencies for a variety of scams as it is easier to remain anonymous while receiving payment.
by Jyotsna V