Scammers are shifting their gaze from card payments to crypto
White says that because payment fraud is getting harder to perpetrate, criminal groups are turning their attention to other types of activity, a shift that’s reflected in an overall increase in scams.
Delia Rickard, Vice President of the ACCC, said in her foreword to the Targeted scams report 2021 that the “popularity and hype” of cryptocurrency has led to increased losses from related scams.
“[Crypto] is becoming the preferred payment method for all types of scams,” she says.
Crypto scams can involve anything from fake digital currency investments to fake crypto wallets or bitcoin-stealing malware.
It can also involve paying for goods with cryptos that never show up, and theft via hacking. Due to the anonymous nature of crypto, ransomware often demands payment in bitcoin.
“In March 2022, the Australian Government began consultation on licensing approaches for digital currency exchanges and custody requirements for crypto assets,” Rickard said.
“In the meantime, I hope this and other regulatory measures will slow the growth of cryptocurrency scams,” he says.
AusPayNet’s White says the new federal government recognizes that crypto needs to be regulated, like any other financial service.
“If you [are a bank] to process a payment, whether that payment is in Australian dollars or bitcoin…it should be regulated the same way,” White says.
Reputable crypto exchanges want to be regulated, he says. Consumer protection is largely about the regulatory framework, says White. “This will help everyone in the ecosystem – the consumer can have more confidence in dealing with a reputable exchange because it is licensed, and banks will be able to better assess exchanges.”
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