Australians have lost $242.5 million, so far in 2022, to crypto-related scams, says Scamwatch’s latest data. Majority of all funds lost to scams, from January to July 2022, of all types were investment scams. It ranged from romance baiting scams to classic Ponzi schemes and cryptocurrency scams.
The latest figure is 36% higher than the figures across all of 2021, showing that Australians lost AUD178.2 million to investment scams in the year. This has prompted consumer advocates to push for banks to bear more responsibility for reimbursing scams to “drive greater investment in stopping fraud”.
Advocacy groups in Australia are pushing for reforms requiring banks to check the recipient’s name matches the account name when money is transferred online. Consumer Action Law Centre chief executive Gerard Brody said the key reform is to shift that liability from individual consumers to banks. He highlighted that banks ask customers for their account names, but they don’t actually check. Brody said banks want more customers to take up the optional PayID technology which allows customers to see the name attached to a BSB and account number. He outlined that it was clear the optional system forcing consumers to be solely responsible for preventing scams isn’t working.
Australian authorities have boosted scrutiny over the crypto space amid a rise in crypto scams, hacks, and the general market slump. Sean Hughes, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) commissioner, urged investors to understand that investing in crypto assets is a form of “extreme risk-taking”. He said the ASIC wants to be very clear and unambiguous in its messages to consumers entering the market. The Commission describes crypto assets as highly volatile, inherently risky, and complex.