Australian consumers lost more than $2.1 million to cryptocurrency scams in 2017, the country’s Competition and Consumer Commission says.
The Commission announced the findings Monday in an annual scams report, also noting that the rise in crypto-related scams corresponded with an increase in coin prices through 2017. Of the more than $2 million lost in 2017, scams cost consumers approximately $100,000 per month between January and September, the report said. However in December – when bitcoin’s price skyrocketed to nearly $20,000 – consumers reported losses exceeding $700,000, the Commission said.
The report indicated that fake ICOs, crypto-related pyramid schemes and ransomware payments were common means of swindling consumers.
The Commission said it expects crypto-related fraud to continue, noting, “as with other scams, this is likely the very tip of the iceberg.”
That being said, the report noted, Australians in general lost more than $340 million in scams overall, with $64 million being lost to investment scams specifically last year.
Stepping back, the report highlights one instance of an epidemic of scams that spans the globe.
As previously reported by CoinDesk, just seven prominent scams, hacks and attacks in 2017 resulted in the loss of around $490 million of consumer funds. Likewise, the Wall Street Journal recently reported that of the 1,450 ICOs it reviewed, 271 had “red flags that include plagiarized investor documents, promises of guaranteed returns and missing or fake executive teams.”
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