Australian consumers lost over $4.3 million (6.1 million Australian dollars) last year through virtual currency scams according to a report that was released earlier today by the nation’s Competition and Consumer Commission.
This was a 190% increase from the $1.48 million (AU$2.1 million) lost in 2017. It’s a substantial figure despite the slump in crypto prices last year that saw the market lose over 80 percent of its value. The report indicates that Australian authorities had received over 674 cases where cryptocurrencies were used to pay scammers.
The majority of the victims affected by the Virtual Currency Scams were targeted through investment schemes that encouraged them to purchase digital currencies or asked them to make cryptocurrency payments in order to gain access to commodity trading, forex trading and other investment opportunities.
According to the report, a total of $1.8 million was lost this way with most consumers gaining conscious of the situation after they were unable to withdraw funds or even contact the scammers.
The ACCC said that almost half of all the people who lost their money were men aged between 25 and 34. However, the report notes that the total number could be higher since some of the victims may have been too embarrassed to come out.
Interestingly, one of the victims believed that they had been given a trial task for a well-paid job and proceeded to convert money at a Bitcoin ATM and sent it to the investors. Consequently, their bank accounts were frozen as an investigation took place.
“I’m cooperating with the bank and hope to get my accounts unlocked, and my name cleared. It’s clear to me now that this was just a money laundering scheme and I fell for it.”
The ACCC has now urged all consumers to be careful of unusual payments like crypto, iTunes gift cards, and a few other remittance services.
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