Australians lose $12.75 million to investment scams in Q1’2018

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Australians reported having lost $12.75 million to investment fraud in the first quarter of 2018, according to the latest numbers provided by Scamwatch, the body operated by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

February was the month with the biggest number of reports and the biggest losses reported by harmed investors. They reported $5,005,307 lost to investment scams in February. The sum marked an increase of 8.7% from the investment fraud losses of $4.63 million reported in January 2018.

March stands in contrast with the first two months of the year – the amount of losses reported was $3.11 million, sharply down from February and January levels. The number of reports submitted to ACCC was 258. Nevertheless, the sum reported lost to investment scams in March 2018 was nearly four times higher than in March 2017, indicating the surge of activity of various fraudulent schemes and the increased number of their victims.

Photo credit: Scamwatch.

Regarding the details of such schemes, one should note that the bulk of investment scams are perpetrated via phone. The people that lost the biggest sum of money in the first quarter of 2018 are those aged from 45 to 54 years. Younger people (25-34 years) are the most active in reporting fraud.

A type of investment fraud that is currently on the rise in Australia involves cryptocurrencies. Earlier this year Consumer Affairs Victoria, a business unit of the Department of Justice & Regulation, within the Victorian government, voiced its concerns about Bitcoin scams. Victoria’s consumer regulator said it had received reports of people being scammed through fake Bitcoin websites. The average amount lost is not that large – around $300, but apparently such type of fraud is worrisome.

In the meantime, the Australian authorities continue to remind cryptocurrency exchange platforms that they are now subject to new regulatory requirements and need to register with AUSTRAC. The latest such reminder was posted earlier today on AUSTRAC’s website.

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