The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scamwatch site has found that Aussies lost over A$205 million to investment scams between January and May of 2022.
This represents a 314 percent increase compared to the first four months of 2021, with more than A$80 million of this year’s losses (between January 1 and May 1) from crypto scams alone.
ACCC On Edge Over Losses
With more than half of the year still ahead, these daunting figures have the ACCC on edge. Its deputy chair, Delia Rickard, has noted that consumers who lack familiarity with crypto and its intricacies are most likely to accidentally engage with scam tactics.
We are seeing more money lost to investment scams and so are urging all Australians not to trust investment opportunities that seem too good to be true.Delia Rickard, deputy chair, ACCC
While the number of investment scams has increased compared to the same period last year, the true amount of funds lost to investment scams could be far higher, the ACCC believes. This is because only about 13 percent of people report their losses. In 2022, the number of reports is down despite losses increasing, suggesting investors are sustaining higher individual losses on average and are reticent to disclose them.
The ACCC also believes that crypto scams are likely to have increased due to a heightened awareness of crypto introducing many naive investors to the game.
Louder Calls for Regulation
In August 2021, the ACCC began issuing warnings regarding scammers swindling Aussies via fake crypto platforms. These “creative” ploys had seen unscrupulous operators impersonating crypto exchanges and targeting victims via chat channels such as Telegram.
The new federal Labor government is being urged by consumer advocates to protect Aussies from these crypto scams. CHOICE, Australia’s largest consumer advocacy group, is calling for increased regulation of the industry – with the addition of a “single definition for crypto assets”.
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