Cryptocurrency has been growing in popularity for the past decade. However, with popularity and growth comes some danger. Crypto scams have been increasing exponentially, close to 200% in 2018 in Australia alone.
The digital form of currency has shown itself to be convenient and a good investment. Various forms of cryptocurrency regularly increase in value. However, the biggest draw for many who use it is the anonymity.
As online casinos have become more regulated in many parts of the world, like Australia, it has been tougher to use traditional bank accounts or credit cards to transfer funds to and from an online casino account. This made cryptocurrency an even more attractive method for players.
In the past several years, more online casinos have adopted at least one cryptocurrency method for deposits and withdrawals from their sites. At the very least, most sites now accept Bitcoin, such as Fair Go Casino, Kahuna, Raging Bull, and Uptown Pokies. And some, like Play Amo, accept numerous forms of cryptocurrency to accommodate more players.
Scams Increased in 2018
According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), scams of all kinds are increasing more than ever. Australians lost more than $489 million to scammers in 2018. That number was up by $149 million from the previous year.
Investment scams are the most prevalent, and cheat people out of the most money per scam. There are also dating and romance scams and ones pertaining to new technologies.
The latest scam to cost thousands of households was that which starts with automated phone calls threatening arrest and prosecution for unpaid taxes. That scam increased more than 900% in 2018.
Scammers often target people for alternate forms of payment. Cash and checks are easier to trace. However, scammers are now asking for money via gift cards and iTunes cards, through prepaid cards, and cryptocurrencies. It allows them to bypass most systems set up by financial institutions and agencies to detect scams.
The ACCC has recently been increasing its work with social media platforms and telecommunications providers to intercept scams. This includes tracing phone numbers or email addresses to stop scammers and possibly track them for prosecution.
By the Numbers
Scamwatch reported the following numbers to the ACCC for 2018:
- Investment scams: $86 million
- Dating and romance scams: $60.5 million
- False billing: $5.5 million
- Remote access scams: $4.7 million
- Physical or arrest threats: $3.3 million
- Online shopping scams: $3.3 million
- Hacking: $3.1 million
- Unexpected prize and lottery scams: $2.7 million
- Betting and sports investment scams: $2.6 million
- Classified scams: $2.4 million
Males were affected more often by investment scams. Meanwhile, women lost more to dating and romance scams. Overall, men lost nearly $57 million, while women lost almost $49 million. Some scams, however, remained non-gender specific.
Broken down by age groups, losses were tallied as follow
- 55-64: 26%
- 65-older: 22%
- 45-54: 20%
- 35-44: 15%
- 25-34: 13%
- 18-24: 3%
This indicates that older people are more susceptible to scams and younger people may be more educated as to the scams that are being perpetrated.
Focus on Crypto Scams
The report did focus on cryptocurrencies, mostly with respect to crypto scams. In 2018, cryptocurrency of some form was used to pay scammers in 674 cases totaling $6.1 million. That dollar amount increased 190% from the previous year.
The reason crypto scams are becoming more prevalent is that they are a new front line technology. Digital currency generally tends to be a safer transaction option than other forms of payments. Nevertheless, there are scammers who know how to persuade buyers to invest and then steal that investment in the blockchain world.
Use with Care
Some online casino players dip into cryptocurrency specifically to use it for online purchases and internet gaming. If a person limits their transactions and keeps their online wallet solely for certain transactions, they are less likely to be susceptible to scammers wanting them to invest in new crypto.
It is also best to refrain from doing crypto-based transactions with unknown entities. For example, one online casino player may ask another to transfer funds for play. Not only is this usually against the terms and conditions of online casinos, it is unwise to let others know about a crypto account in the first place.
Staying focused and protecting those cryptocurrency wallets will prove key to safeguarding those digital funds for the long run.