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Aussies lost $81.5 million to crypto scams this year: ACCC

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says actual losses in scams likely to be much higher, as only around 13 percent of the people report losses. However, the Mayor of Gold Coast in Australia still has faith in the currency and asks: why not pay local taxes in cryptocurrency?

June 07, 2022 / 02:38 PM IST

Australians lost over AUD 113 million ($81.5m) to cryptocurrency scams between January 1 and May 1 this year, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has announced.

According to the ACCC, including non-crypto scams, Australians lost a total of AUD 205m ($148m) this year -- a 166 percent increase, compared to the same period last year.

Actual losses much higher

ACCC has stated that actual losses in scams are likely to be much higher, as only around 13 percent of the people report their losses to Scamwatch, an ACCC-run website helping consumers and small businesses recognise, avoid and report scams.

The majority of losses over this period have been investment scams with AUD 158m ($114m) lost, an increase of 314 percent, compared to the same period last year.

“We are seeing more money lost to investment scams and so are urging all Australians not to trust investment opportunities that seem too good to be true,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

ACCC states that cryptos are the most common payment method for investment scams.

Cryptos are the most common payment method for investment scams

“Australians should be very wary of anyone asking them to invest in or transfer money using cryptocurrency, especially if it’s someone you have only met online. Many consumers are unfamiliar with the complexities of cryptocurrency and this can make them more vulnerable to scams,” Rickard said.

Australian Mayor bats for cryptos

Meanwhile, Tom Tate, the Mayor of Gold Coast in Australia, speaking to a local news outlet, has suggested that cryptocurrency could be used by residents to pay local taxes in future.

"Why can't we pay rates on cryptocurrency if the risk is not high? The volatility is not that bad,” the Mayor was quoted as saying.

Over 1 billion in crypto lost to scams since 2021: FTC

Notably, the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in its recent report stated that since the start of 2021, more than 46,000 people have reported losing over $1 billion in crypto to scams – about one out of every four dollars reported lost.

The reported losses in 2021 were nearly 60 times what they were in 2018.

The top cryptocurrencies people said they used to pay scammers were Bitcoin (70 percent), Tether (10 percent), and Ether (9 percent).

According to the FTC, since the start of 2021, nearly four out of every 10 dollars reported lost to a fraud originating on social media was in crypto, far more than any other payment method.
Murtaza Merchant is a senior journalist and an avid follower of blockchain and cryptocurrencies.
first published: Jun 7, 2022 02:38 pm