Australian Communications and Media Authority voices concerns about Bitcoin scams

Maria Nikolova

Fake Bitcoin surveys and Blockchain URLs are after Australians in an attempt to get their information and money, ACMA warns.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has added its voice to the growing chorus of concerns about the increased number of fraudulent schemes involving cryptocurrencies.

Earlier today, using social networks, ACMA warned the public of scams targeting people who use crypto currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. In particular, the authority noted a number of fake Blockchain URLs and a Bitcoin survey that are indeed scams that aim to collect personal information.

Source: ACMA.

The worst part, according to ACMA, is that unlike in other scam scenarios, where victims may get their money back, with crypto currency, once the transfer to the scammer is done it may be irreversible.

The surest way to avoid this irreversible outcome is not to click through to these fake sites, ACMA advises.

Meanwhile, the Australian government is making progress towards the regulation of cryptocurrency exchanges. Earlier in October, the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Amendment Bill 2017, also known as Australia’s “bitcoin bill”, got the green light from the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee.

The “bitcoin bill” introduces changes to the current AML/CTF law by modernizing it to take into account digital currencies like Bitcoin. Under the bill, businesses that trade digital currencies for money, and vice versa, will be required to:

  • enroll and register with AUSTRAC;
  • establish, implement and maintain an AML/CTF program, which sets the framework for businesses to comply with their obligations, including customer due diligence requirements;
  • report threshold transactions and suspicious matters to AUSTRAC, and
  • keep appropriate records.

The penalties outlined in the bill range from imprisonment for 2 years and/or 500 penalty units for those who violate the requirement for registration with AUSTRAC for providing digital currency exchange services. The penalty may reach 7 years of imprisonment and a fine of 2,000 penalty units if the AUSTRAC CEO gave the person a direction in relation to violations of registration rules and accepted undertakings given by the person in relation to registration violations on numerous occasions.

The House of Representatives held a second reading debate on the bill on October 24, 2017. The document was referred to the Federation Chamber.

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