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Losses from Australians to investment scams increased by 90% to AU$103 million from the start of the year to March 20, with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission saying payments made to scammers are most often made in cryptocurrency.
“In relation to scamwatch, we see a number of scams relating to investment schemes, and we are now seeing that the payments in relation to those are now more often by way of cryptocurrency than by way of bank transfer,” newly-minted ACCC chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb told Senate Estimates on Thursday.
Executive general manager for consumer and fair trading Rami Greiss said while the increase in crypto use tracked its growing popularity, it has facets that lend itself to be used by scammers.
“It’s also the fact that it’s an unregulated product, so there are no controls. There are no institutions that can be roped in to assist,” Greiss said.
“So really, it’s the fact that it’s the wild west.”
Greiss further pointed out that only 12% of scams were reported, and therefore could not be taken as absolute gospel.
Referencing its current court action against Meta for allegedly publishing scam advertisements featuring prominent Australian public figures, Greiss said people were falling for