Australians have been increasingly cheated by investment and crypto-related scams, losing 242.5 million Australian dollars to scammers so far in 2022, according to the latest data from Scamwatch.
From January to July of this year, most of the funds lost to scams of all kinds were investment scams ranging from romance scams to classic Ponzi schemes and cryptocurrency scams.
The figure is already 36% higher than the full 2021 figures, which showed Australians lost AUD 178.2 million in the year to investment scams.
It’s a threat that has prompted consumer advocates to push banks to take more responsibility for reimbursing scams in order to “invest more in stopping fraud.”
According to a Sept. 8 report from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (TBEN), advocacy groups are pushing for reforms that would require banks to verify that the recipient’s name matches the account name when transferring money online.
“The most important reform is to shift that liability from individual consumers to banks when it comes to scam losses,” said Gerard Brody, CEO of Consumer Action Law Center.
“She [banks] ask for the account name, but they don’t really check.”
However, banks want more customers to use the optional PayID technology, which allows customers to see the name attached to a BSB and account number.
Brody said it was clear that the optional system that forces consumers to be solely responsible for preventing scams is not working.
The Australian authorities appeared to have stepped up control of the crypto space amid an increase in crypto scams, hacks and the general market downturn.
On September 11, Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) Commissioner Sean Hughes reportedly urged investors to understand that investing in crypto assets is a form of “extreme risk-taking.”
“We want to be very clear and unambiguous in our messages to consumers entering the market,” ASIC Commissioner Sean Hughes told a Governance Institute conference, as reported by local media, adding:
“We think crypto assets are highly volatile, inherently risky and complex.”
In August, the Australian Federal Police set up a special team to monitor crypto-related transactions after previously calling cryptocurrencies an “emerging threat” amid an increase in criminal activity surrounding the technology.
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The month also saw Australia’s new Labor government announce its stance on crypto regulation, while crypto exchange Binance Australia also announced in August that they were tightening new user onboarding processes to protect people identified as most vulnerable to financial crypto crime.