Victoria’s consumer regulator voices concerns about Bitcoin scams

Maria Nikolova

Consumer Affairs Victoria has received numerous reports of people being scammed through fake Bitcoin websites.

In the face of the efforts of Australia’s authorities regarding the regulation of digital currency businesses, fraud involving Bitcoin and its likes continues to reap victims. Earlier today, Consumer Affairs Victoria, a business unit of the Department of Justice & Regulation, within the Victorian government, has voiced its concerns about Bitcoin scams.

Victoria’s consumer regulator said it had received reports of people being scammed through fake Bitcoin websites. The average amount lost is not that large – around $300, but apparently such type of fraud is worrisome. The regulator advises investors to be vigilant when buying cryptocurrency, and to always research the seller/website before investing.

This is not the first time Australian regulators raise alarm with regard to Bitcoin fraud. In October last year, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (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.

Meanwhile, data from Scamwatch, the body operated by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), shows the organization received a total of 77 reports about Bitcoin-related scams in the week to October 29, 2017, with the number up 126% from the previous week.

Australians report having lost a total of $10,692,438 to various scams in January 2018, with investment schemes being at the top of fraudulent activities costing money to Australians in January 2018.

The amount reported lost as a result of investment fraud topped $4.63 million in January 2018, up 60% from the $2.9 million reported lost to such fraud in December 2017 and up massive 172% from the $1.7 million reported lost in January 2017.

The profile of people actively reporting investment fraud has seen some changes. Whereas these are typically elderly people, in January 2018, the biggest number of reports was submitted by people aged 25-34, whereas the biggest amount lost was reported by those aged 45-54.

Australians reported losses of more than $31.15 million due to investment scams in 2017, according to Scamwatch. The losses mark a 32% rise from the losses of $23.63 million reported by Australians hit by investment fraud in 2016. Investment schemes dominated the landscape of most widespread scams in Australia in December 2017.

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