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Australia, Bitcoin scams boom

Investment scams have been on the rise in Australia, half of which involve Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies.

Specifically, in the first six months of 2021, there are $60 million in losses, more than half concentrated in Bitcoin and cryptocurrency scams.

Bitcoin scams in Australia

According to the ACCC (Australian Competition & Consumer Commission), Bitcoin and cryptocurrency scams have yielded gains for scammers (and losses for investors), amounting to $29 million. Of these, $25 million involve Bitcoin alone. 

The fact that this is a real boom is demonstrated by the fact that throughout 2020 Bitcoin-themed scams have stopped at losses of $17.8 million. 

Delia Richard, Deputy Chair of ACCC, explains:

“More than half of the $70 million in losses were to cryptocurrency, especially through Bitcoin, and cryptocurrency scams were also the most commonly reported type of investment scam, with 2,240 reports. Be wary of investment opportunities with low risk and high returns. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Bitcoin-themed scams usually propose highly profitable investment schemes with miraculous algorithms that can make a lot of money in a short time. Often these programs use celebrities as sponsors; too bad the VIP in question is not aware of anything, nor has he ever used the platform attributed to him. 

The point is that the victim actually receives small returns, in the beginning, then the scammers vanish into thin air. 

“Romantic” scams

Also included in cryptocurrency-themed scams are so-called Romance baiting. In this case, the scammer establishes a real relationship with the victim, often via social networks. When they are sure of the acquired trust, they convince them to invest usually in cryptocurrencies and bonds. 

The victims, in this case, are almost always young people, who believe in the opportunity of an easy gain, and they sign up on “unlikely” websites where huge possibilities of enrichment are offered. As above, if something is too good to be true, it’s probably not true. 

The rise of cryptocurrency scams

With the pandemic, the lockdown, the restrictions, the economic difficulties, scams of this type have increased. In fact, many taken a little from desperation, a little from naivety, have sought other ways to earn money, in some cases relying on the wrong people. That is why between 2020 and 2021, there will be a sharp increase in fraud. 

Australia is not alone. According to Reuters reports, it’s been worse in China, where the fraud of this type allowed scammers to pocket as much as $2.2 billion between 2019 and 2021.

How to protect yourself

While many scams are well-orchestrated, there are steps you can take to avoid falling for them. 

The first piece of good advice is always to be wary of those who promise easy money. Then you should always ask yourself who is the sender of an email or the person proposing an investment. To invest, it is always better to rely on known platforms. And then study: knowing the product you are investing in is a fundamental weapon to understand if you are going towards something safe or at a different risk.

The last piece of advice is always valid, even in the case of legitimate investments: never invest more than you are willing to lose. 

Eleonora Spagnolo
Eleonora Spagnolo
Journalist passionate about the web and the digital world. She graduated with honours in Multimedia Publishing at the University La Sapienza in Rome and completed a master's degree in Web and Social Media Marketing.