As bitcoin price hits unprecedented heights this week, Bitcoin-related scams are also on the rise according to an Australian government study.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), an independent Australian government authority tasked to enforce consumer protection laws, has pointed to a marked uptick in bitcoin-related scams in the country. Through ‘Scamwatch’, the authority provides an overview of fraud and scam-related trends taking shape in the country by collaborating with various state and territory consumer protection agencies and other government agencies.
In a social media post yesterday, Scamwatch pointed to 77 reports by users pointing bitcoin-related scams last week.
Here’s a snapshot of current and emerging scams targeting Australians, based on reports to Scamwatch last week pic.twitter.com/fyqkGXt1DN
— Scamwatch_gov_au (@Scamwatch_gov) November 1, 2017
The uptick in bitcoin-related scams by fraudsters is predictable at a time of rampant retail investor interest in the world’s most prominent cryptocurrency. On Thursday, bitcoin price hit a new all-time high just under $7.000, a staggering 600% value gain for the cryptocurrency since the turn of the year.
Australian authorities are currently in the process of revising existing laws to include bitcoin exchanges under a regulatory purview, a move that brings the industry under the scope of Australian legislation for the first time. Unregistered operators of digital currency exchanges will be held liable to a number of civil penalties, as per the revised ‘bitcoin bill’ that is currently being fast-tracked by the Australian Parliament.
When passed, the bill will bestow enhanced powers to the Australian Transactions and Reporting Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), the country’s financial watchdog, whose chief executive will be able to “make rules to expand or narrow the scope of the digital currency definition.”
Further, a new designated authority tasked to register and regulate cryptocurrency exchanges in Australia will also be established within six months of the bill’s enforcement.
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