Investment scams continue to gather pace in Australia

Maria Nikolova

Australians reported $1.2 million lost to investment scams in the week to June 24th, according to data from Scamwatch.

The latest weekly numbers from Scamwatch, a body operated by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), have just been released, with investment scams once again gaining pace.

Investment schemes were among the top scams targeting Australians – during the week from June 18 to June 24, 2018, Australians reported losses of $1.18 million due to such fraud. False billing scams were also among the most widespread fraudulent schemes.

The latest data is in line with the numbers for May 2018, which have also indicated a rising trend of investment scams. Australians reported losses of $5.8 million due to investment scams for May 2018, with 429 reports about such fraud submitted. These are the highest monthly losses caused by investment scams on record, taking the amount lost by Australians as a result of investment scams since the start of this year to more than $21.8 million. Previous records were set in November 2017 and February 2018.

A type of investment fraud that is currently gaining momentum in Australia involves cryptocurrencies. In March this year, Consumer Affairs Victoria, a business unit of the Department of Justice & Regulation, within the Victorian government, voiced its concerns about Bitcoin scams. Victoria’s consumer regulator said it had received reports of people being defrauded through fake Bitcoin websites. The average amount lost is not that large – around $300, but the body sees this type of fraud as worrisome.

In the meantime, the Australian authorities continue to remind cryptocurrency exchange platforms that they are now subject to new regulatory requirements and need to register with AUSTRAC. The registration of such a business with AUSTRAC, however, does not constitute endorsement.

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