Australia saw a 190 per cent increase in crypto-scams during 2018.

Australians lost over $6.1 million to cryptocurrency-based scams last year, much of which came in the form of ‘investment scams’.

It is a big rise on the losses reported by victims during 2017, when cryptocurrency values peaked.

“This is a 190 per cent increase over the $2.1 million reported in 2017,” the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said in its annual scam report (PDF).

Cryptocurrency-based scams are now the second highest unusual payment method for losses, pulling ahead of gift cards like Apple iTunes cards or Google Pay cards.

Almost 50 per cent of reported scams were highlighted by men between the ages of 25 and 34.

The ACCC says the full cost of the scams is probably much higher than reported, as many victims would be too embarrassed to report it or unaware that they have been grifted.

Just over 40 per cent came in the form of cryptocurrency-based ‘investment scams’, in which victims are duped into dummy investment opportunities.

“Victims reported being tricked by online scammers into purchasing various cryptocurrencies through the scammer’s software platform, but, as with other investment scams, when they tried to cash out, the scammers either made excuses or were no longer contactable,” the ACCC said.

“These investment scams also included scammers asking for payment in cryptocurrency for forex trading, commodity trading or other investment opportunities.”

The ACCC also said some scam victims are sent to Bitcoin ATMs to convert money to Bitcoin before transferring it to the scammer.