More than one thousand Australians were victimized by various cryptocurrency scams in 2017, according to a recently released report from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). Victims lost a total of AU $2.1 million to scams involving fake ICOs, assorted pyramid schemes, and even non-crypto schemes where the scammers simply required victims to use crypto as payment.
The report suggests that the scam activity reached its peak in the final quarter of 2017, coinciding with the digital currency market’s massive increase in value:
“Between January and September 2017, about $100 000 was reported lost per month to scams which had a cryptocurrency angle. However, in the month of December 2017, reported losses to Scamwatch exceeded $700 000 and the average reported loss had jumped from $1885 in January to $13 205.
As the value of actual cryptocurrencies increased, so too did the scam losses in what people thought were real investments. By the end of the year, reports of losses related to cryptocurrencies exceeded $2.1 million but as with other scams, this is likely the very tip of the iceberg.”
The report also noted, however, that cryptocurrency-related scams made up only a small fraction of the total losses incurred by Australians last year. All totaled, the ACCC reports that scams cost Australians roughly AU $340 million in 2017, with investment scams comprising fully AU $64 million. The second most popular scheme involved online dating scams, which victimized Australians to the tune of about AU $42 million.