Australians have lost $14.76 million on cryptocurrency scams this year alone, and that’s only the scams which have actually been reported to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

The ACCC has warned people to be vigilant against scams of all kinds, reporting that losses reported to the agency from scams expected to reach a whopping $532 million by the end of the year.

Should it hit that mark, it would be the worst year for scams on record.

Typical scams involve ‘romance scams’ or calls from scammers purporting to be the Australian Tax Office, but this year has seen the rise and rise of cryptocurrency scams.

The ACCC said $14.76 million had been lost in crypto scams alone from January to the end of July — with broader investment scam losses reaching $36.95 million.

That’s up over 13 per cent year on year.

“Our advice is to be wary of ads you see on the internet,” ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said.

“Don’t be persuaded by celebrity endorsements or ‘not to be missed’ opportunities. You never know for certain who you’re dealing with or whether they’re credible.”

Fake celebrity endorsements for cryptocurrency scams have been on the rise over the past year or so. In one instance Shark Tank Australia judges were falsely depicted as piling into a crypto company.

A scam in action

In 2018 Shark Tank Australia judges were quick to raise the alarm after their likenesses were used in ‘fake news’, claiming that they had invested in fake company Bitcoin Trader.

One ad which ran on social media claimed judges Steve Baxter and Glen Richards engaged in a bidding war for the company — which never happened.

The ‘article’ claimed that fellow judge Janine Allis bought $250 worth of Bitcoin during the conveniently unaired episode, seeing her investment rise by $73 in three minutes.

“I’m still in shock, I deposited $250 live on the show and it immediately returned a $73.18 profit after just 3 minutes. That is the biggest and fastest return I’ve ever seen after 3 minutes. This thing is legit,” the article claims Allis said.

“Bitcoin Trader has been the greatest investment I’ve ever made! The business has been growing at over 2,400% this year alone. And as a user of the platform, my Bitcoin trading profits have increased by 320% on virtual autopilot,” Baxter also said… apparently.

Facebook has even gone as far as to invest in scam reporting tools after a proliferation of scam ads on the platform claiming UK investment commentator Martin Lewis was an investor in various crypto schemes led Lewis to sue it for defamation.

The ACCC has set up a dedicated site to report scams — which you can find here. It has also set up a register of companies you should not deal with, which you can find here.