Cryptocurrency trading is now the most common investment scam in Australia.
“Cryptocurrency trading scams have grown significantly in the past 12 months and are now the second most common type of investment scam offer pushed on victims,” Scamwatch, a consumer service run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), wrote on its website this morning. According to ACCC chair Delia Rickard, cryptocurrency scams are similar to other investment scams. “The scammer will claim to have inside knowledge about price movements they will use to make you a fortune. If you invest, your money will quickly disappear,” she stated. According to the Commission, more than $26 million has been lost to investment scams in the country so far this year. At this pace, the total value of scams this year is expected to surpass $100 million. (See also: How To Identify Cryptocurrency And ICO Scams).
The mainstreaming of cryptocurrencies has been accompanied with a simultaneous increase in scams related to them. Initial coin offerings (ICOs), or an offer of tokens which represent equity in a startup or product, are the most common vehicle for criminal activities. According to reports released earlier this year, 80% of ICOs are scams. (See also: 80% Of ICOs Are Scams).
An Early Mover In Cryptocurrency Regulation
To be sure, Australia has moved quickly to evaluate cryptocurrencies and put regulation in place to contain their negative effects on the financial ecosystem. It launched ICO guidelines in October 2017. Earlier this year, the country’s financial regulatory AUSTRAC established laws that require digital currency exchanges to register with it. It also requires cryptocurrency exchanges to adhere to AML/CTF (Anti-money laundering/Counter-terrorism financing) compliance and reporting requirements. There are already three government-certified crypto exchanges operating in Australia. The Australian dollar is the 15th most-traded fiat currency in cryptocurrency markets, as of this writing. The same website reports that it accounts for 0.04% of overall share of bitcoin trading.