Australian Crypto Scams Rise Over 162% With Nearly $150 Million Loss
In 2022, Australians lost 221.3 million Australian dollars ($148.3 million) as a result of investment scams where bitcoin was used as a payment method, up 162.4% over 2021. According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) April 17 fraudulent activity reports, a total of 3,910 crypto fraud incident reports were filed, with the average Australian victim losing AU$56,600 ($37,900).
The $148.3 million amount is 7.1% of the total AU$3.1 billion ($2.08 billion) in fraud recorded in Australia in 2022. With around 13,100 reports it amounts to $141 million — $7.3 million less of crypto payments — bank transfers remain the most common fraudulent payment method . Bank transfer payment scams average around AU$16,000 ($10,700) per event, implying that crypto criminals can extort 250% more value from each victim.
According to the data, crypto scammers mainly contact victims using social media and network applications, while bank payment scammers mainly contact victims by phone and email. ACCC Deputy Chair Catriona Lowe said in an April 17 statement that new technology makes it easier to “entice and deceive victims” with increasingly “sophisticated” tactics:
“A worrying new tactic has emerged, making fraud extremely difficult to detect.” This includes anything from impersonating reputable business legitimate phone numbers, email addresses, and websites to texting scams that appear in the same chat thread as the real thing.”
“This means anyone, now more than ever, can fall victim to fraud,” he continued.
While the statistics are “alarming,” Lowe emphasized that the “true cost” of the losses has not been tallied: “Australians are losing more money to fraud than ever before in 2022, but the true cost of fraud is far more than a dollar.” because they also cause emotional stress to victims, their families, and businesses.”
Lowe stated that the Australian government, law enforcement and the commercial sector must improve relationships to “fight” fraud more effectively and reduce the number of victims. The typical victim of an investment scam in Australia is a 65-year-old male who is approached on social media or replied to a false advertisement, according to statistics from Scamwatch’s ACCC scam database.
They will likely be involved in the scam for “a few months” before realizing they have been conned. Among the most common investment scams recorded were fake bond offerings, initial public offerings (IPOs), relationship schemes or hog slaughter, and money recovery services. According to the ACCC, fraud losses were “significantly higher” than recorded as approximately 30% of scam victims did not report the incident to anyone, while only 13% reported the incident to Scamwatch.
Data for this research was collected by Scamwatch ACCC, ReportCyber, Australian Financial Crimes Exchange (AFCX) and other organizations.