Australia saw a surge in reports of scams involving cryptocurrencies last year, according to the country’s consumer watchdog.
Australia’s consumer watchdog has reportedly received over 1,200 complaints about cryptocurrency scams in 2017.
According to the ABC’s current affairs program 7.30, data obtained from the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Scamwatch program indicated it received 1,289 complaints related to crypto fraud in 2017. Losses totalling $1,218,206 were also reported.
Speaking to the show, Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) commissioner John Price warned that, “It’s been quite well documented that some of these products are scams, so please don’t invest unless you’re prepared to lose some or all of your money.”
The news comes two months after the country made regulatory changes to more closely control its crypto industry. In December, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (Austrac) received the go-ahead to monitor Australia’s bitcoin exchanges.
The move meant exchanges in the country must register with Austrac and be placed on a dedicated register. They are also required to set up other procedures, including countering the risks of money laundering and terrorism financing, verifying customers’ identities, and maintaining some records for seven years,
Regulators and other authorities elsewhere around the globe are also increasingly starting to take action on fraudulent crypto schemes.
CoinDesk reported in January that the New York County District Attorney’s Office has shut down more than 70 allegedly fraudulent bitcoin investment sites.
And both the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Commodity Future Exchange Commission (CFTC) have taken action in recent weeks.
The SEC charged cryptocurrency banking firm AriseBank over alleged fraud and violations of securities rules on Jan. 25, announcing a cease-and-desist order on firm’s operations.
Sydney image via Shutterstock
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