Australian regulator explains how to spot a crypto scam

“When Australians fall victim to scams, the cost is often more than purely financial. Scams cause emotional stress and can impact relationships.

Australia's Big Four Banks Risk Losing A$13 Billion

Australia’s financial watchdog has released a statement, in support of Scams Awareness Week, which warns retail investors of major signs of a crypto scam.

Scams Awareness Week is an annual campaign that aims to reduce the impact of scams by helping consumers identify and avoid scams.

Fake Crypto Apps, Fake Crypto Tokens and Jobs, and Payment Scams

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has said that crypto scams fall under three main categoriesincluding:

  • scams where you think you are investing in a real asset, but it is a fake crypto exchange, website or app;
  • fake crypto tokens (used to steal your crypto assets) and crypto trading jobs that look legit on the face of it (but are actually money laundering using crypto); Where
  • scams that use crypto-assets to make a payment.

ASIC Vice President Sarah Court said: “Australians lost over $701 million to investment scams in 2021, up 135% from the previous year and these scams continue to increase. The main driver of the increase was cryptocurrency investment scams, where losses increased by 270%. The ACCC has reported that losses from crypto scams have increased further in 2022. Given this worrying trend, we want to arm Australians with the information they need to protect themselves from scammers.

ASIC investigators identified the Top 10 Signs of a Likely Crypto Scam:

  • You receive an unexpected offer
  • You see a celebrity advertisement that is actually fake
  • Romantic partner you only know online asks for crypto money
  • You are forced to transfer crypto from your current exchange to another website
  • You are being asked to pay for a financial service with crypto
  • The app you are using or being redirected to is not listed on Google Play Store or Apple Store
  • You have to pay more to access your money
  • You are “guaranteed” returns, or free money
  • Strange tokens appear in your digital wallet
  • Provider withholds investment income “for tax purposes”

Sarah Court, Vice President of ASIC, also gave advice on what to do when consumers get scammed.

“If you believe you have been the victim of a crypto scam, it is important to act quickly. Draw a line below. Don’t send any more money. Block all contacts of the scammer. Do not be too long. Contact your bank or financial institution immediately to report the scam. Ask them to stop any transaction. Also tell your family and friends so they can beware of potential scams. When Australians fall victim to scams, the cost is often more than purely financial. Scams cause emotional stress and can impact relationships,” the regulator’s vice president said.

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