Australia has played home to many a crypto scam as of late.

The Outback and Crypto’s Rocky Relationship

Recently, Live Bitcoin News reported the fates of three potential drug offenders in Australia that were facing life imprisonment for alleged drug-related charges. Two of these individuals had been crypto entrepreneurs.

As big as this may sound, however, it’s but a simple tally on the whiteboard of ongoing cryptocurrency thefts and illicit activity taking place in the Outback. According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), more than $500 million has been lost in Australia thanks to ongoing scams, and over $6 million of that total was in cryptocurrency. While digital assets have gained popularity in the country of Australia, it is also being used for illicit purposes.

The ACCC issued a report that suggests over 378,000 individual scams and cons have been reported within the last year alone in Australia. In addition, total losses for 2018 exceed those of the previous year by nearly $150 million. That’s an increase of roughly 41.7 percent.

ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard comments:

These record losses are likely just the tip of the iceberg. We know that not everyone who suffers a loss to a scammer reports it to a government agency.

In other words, many more scams likely occurred over the last 12 months but were not reported to law enforcement officials.

There were approximately 674 reported cases of crypto hackings and what the ACCC describes as “investment scams.” Individuals were convinced that varying crypto-based projects were the waves of the future and were inspired to fund these projects with their hard-earned dollars, only to see them fall quickly.

This process has been occurring since the early days of the initial coin offering (ICO). ICOs work when new companies seek to raise capital from investors. Instead of offering stock to investors, they offer them access to a special digital coin which they can use to purchase the company’s goods and services.

Unfortunately, many of these companies either don’t raise the money they need or are shady from the start. Thus, they disappear within the first six or 12 months with the funds they have made, while the investors lose their cash and are now stuck with a virtually useless coin.

How Are They Making Their Money?

Rickard also commented that most scammers pull off their cons by contacting people through telephones and relatively “newer” technology:

Scammers are adapting old scams to new technology, seeking payment through unusual methods and automating scam calls to increase their reach to potential victims… The ACCC has been working with banks, financial intermediaries and online classified sites to disrupt scams, but this year we, along with the ACMA and ACSC, would also like to see social media platforms and telecommunications providers doing more to limit the ability of scammers to connect with victims.

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