Aussies caught up in crypto scams lost $701 million last year - that’s up 135 per cent from 2020, according to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).
ASIC said, in support of Scams Awareness Week, it was warning consumers of the key signs of a crypto scam and what to do if you had fallen victim to one.
Crypto scams fall into three broad categories, including scams where you think you’re investing in a genuine asset but it’s a fake crypto exchange, website or app; fake crypto tokens (used to steal your crypto assets), and jobs trading crypto that look legitimate at first glance (but are really money laundering using crypto); or scams that use crypto assets to make a payment.
ASIC deputy chair Sarah Court said crypto scams had continued to increase this year, with losses up 270 per cent.
“Given this concerning trend, we want to arm Australians with the information they need to protect themselves from scammers,’ Court said.
According to ASIC’s investigators, the top 10 signs of a likely crypto scam are:
You receive an offer out of the blue
You see a celebrity advertisement that is actually a fake
A romantic partner you only know online asks for money in crypto
You get pressured into transferring crypto from your current exchange to another website
You’re asked to pay for a financial service with crypto
The app you’re using or directed to isn’t listed on the Google Play Store or Apple Store
You need to pay more to access your money
You are ‘guaranteed’ returns, or free money
Strange tokens appear in your digital wallet
The provider withholds investment earnings ‘for tax purposes’
Court said if you thought you'd been the victim of a crypto scam, it was important to act quickly.
“Draw a line under it. Don't send any more money. Block all contact from the scammer,” Court said.
“Do not delay. Contact your bank or financial institution immediately to report the scam. Ask them to stop any transactions. Also, warn your family and friends so they can watch out for potential follow-up scams.”
Court warned that often when Aussies fell victim to scams, the cost was more than just financial.
“Scams cause emotional stress and can impact relationships,” Court said.
For crisis support, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
For emotional support, contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36.