Corruption News

WA inches closer to record amount of money scammed as interest in cryptocurrency grows


WA is on track to have its worst year for scams as millions of dollars are being lost to cryptocurrency cons.

More than $10 million has been stolen from WA scam victims this year, with Consumer Protection warning if the upward trend continues the State will hit an annual record high.

Consumer Protection commissioner Gary Newcombe warned heightened public interest in cryptocurrency investments were leading the rise.

“Get rich quick proposals are very tempting at a time when the household budget is under pressure and people are desperately looking for opportunities to get better returns on their investments,” he said.

pockets, empty, jeans
Camera IconAt a time when people’s budgets are under pressure, get rich quick schemes can be very tempting. Credit: schuldnerhilfe/Pixabay (user schuldnerhilfe)

Cryptocurrency cons now make up almost half of all scam-related losses.

West Australians lost $4.1m across 71 victims from cryptocurrency scams in the first half of 2022, followed by $3.2m from 37 victims through online romance cons.

Carine scam victim Jeff Beale lost money twice when he got caught up in two sophisticated but phoney schemes.

“The complexity and comprehensiveness of (the scammer’s) set up is mindboggling,” he told 7NEWS’ Flashpoint.

Jeff Beale was the victim of two sophisticated scams.
Camera IconJeff Beale was the victim of two sophisticated scams. Credit: Flashpoint/supplied

Mr Beale said the fraud had taken a toll on him emotionally, not just financially.

“It’s one thing to have the financial loss, but it’s also the assault on the ego as well,” he said.

“I thought I was above that and that I was smarter than that.”

A record total of $14.8m was scammed from West Australians last year, however that figure was believed to be just a small portion of total losses.

Consumer protection said most scam losses went unreported.

Mr Newcombe advised anyone who was considering investing in ventures purporting to be high return will little risk to speak with a licensed financial services provider first.

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