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Tuesday 8 November 2022

22-305MR ASIC’s top-10 ways to spot a crypto scam

In support of Scams Awareness Week, ASIC is warning consumers of the key signs of a crypto scam and advising what to do if you’ve been scammed.

Crypto scams fall into three broad categories, including:

  • scams where you think you’re investing in a genuine asset but it’s a fake crypto exchange, website or app;
  • fake crypto tokens (used to steal your crypto assets), and jobs trading crypto that look legitimate at first glance (but are really money laundering using crypto); or
  • scams that use crypto-assets to make a payment.

ASIC Deputy Chair Sarah Court said, ‘Australians lost more than $701 million to investment scams in 2021, up 135% from the previous year and these scams are continuing to increase. The main driver of the increase was cryptocurrency investment scams, where losses increased by 270%. The ACCC have advised that losses to crypto scams have increased further in 2022.

‘Given this concerning trend, we want to arm Australians with the information they need to protect themselves from scammers,’ said Ms Court.

According to ASIC’s investigators, the top–10 signs of a likely crypto scam are:

  1. You receive an offer out of the blue
  2. You see a celebrity advertisement that is actually a fake
  3. A romantic partner you only know on-line asks for money in crypto
  4. You get pressured into transferring crypto from your current exchange to another website
  5. You’re asked to pay for a financial service with crypto
  6. The app you’re using or directed to isn’t listed on the Google Play Store or Apple Store
  7. You need to pay more to access your money
  8. You are ‘guaranteed’ returns, or free money
  9. Strange tokens appear in your digital wallet
  10. The provider withholds investment earnings ‘for tax purposes’

ASIC Deputy Chair Sarah Court said ‘If you think you've been the victim of a crypto scam, it's important to act quickly. Draw a line under it. Don't send any more money. Block all contact from the scammer.

‘Do not delay. Contact your bank or financial institution immediately to report the scam. Ask them to stop any transactions. Also, warn your family and friends so they can watch out for potential follow-up scams.

‘When Australians fall victim to scams the cost is often more than purely financial. Scams cause emotional stress and can impact relationships’, said Ms Court.

To understand more about crypto scams, see ASIC’s Moneysmart website. For the latest scams information, visit

For crisis support contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

For emotional support contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36.


The ACCC's Targeting Scams Report 2021 shows key trends in scam activity including the latest data.

Scams Awareness Week is an annual campaign, led by the ACCC, that aims to reduce the impact of scams by helping consumers identify and avoid scams. This year, it runs from Monday 7 to Friday 11 November.

To find out more, see the ACCC’s Scams Awareness Week information.

ASIC's Moneysmart website also has useful guidance for investors on how to avoid crypto scams.

Listen to ASIC Deputy Chair Sarah Court summarise key crypto scam messages for consumers

Read the audio transcripts

Description and impact of crypto scams in Australia

The number of scams overall has dramatically increased in recent time, particularly through Covid, but investment scams in particular are the area where most money has been lost – more than $700m last year and the main driver of these investment scam losses, were crypto scams.

Why criminals are choose crypto as a way to commit scams

Crypto currencies are generally not financial products. This means they’re not regulated under our normal consumer protection laws. The transactions aren’t easily traced, the monies or the crypto invested is not easily recovered. And if a platform that you have invested is hacked or it fails then quite often there will not be protections under Australian Laws.

Common types of scams involving crypto

In the crypto area we see scams that make you think that your investing in a genuine exchange or in a genuine website, but it’s really a fake website. We see just fake crypto products that you are tricked into investing in and they didn’t ever exist, and there are also scams where the scammers are requiring somebody to make a payment or a purchase using crypto assets rather than money.

Key warning signs of crypto scams

One of the things to look out for is when you just get someone you don’t know with investment advice or some kind of offer. We’re seeing lots of imposter or fake celebrity endorsements or influencers who claim to say ‘look I’ve invested in this’ and certainly also if you feel that you’re being pressured to move your money, or move your crypto on to a specific platform that should send up you’re warning signals.

What to do if you are scammed

So, if you think you’ve been the victim of a crypto scam you should act quickly. Certainly don’t send any more money, don’t provide any more information, just block all contact from the scammer and then don’t delay in contacting your bank or your financial institution immediately to report the scam and then also make sure that you warn your family and friends, so that they can watch out for any potential follow up scams.

Recap of the risks of crypto-related scams

We really want to arm local residents with all the information they need to protect themselves from scammers. So planning and research are the most important things you can do when it comes to investing and certainly ASIC’s Moneysmart website is a great place to start to get some broad information about investment options, but there are lots of ways to inform yourself using credible sources.

Description and impact of crypto scams in Australia

Why criminals are choose crypto as a way to commit scams

Common types of scams involving crypto

Key warning signs of crypto scams

What to do if you are scammed

Recap of the risks of crypto-related scams

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