SINGAPORE – The number of cryptocurrency scams reported globally has been tripling yearly, with victims lured by the prospect of getting rich quickly.
At the Global Anti-Scam Summit on Wednesday and Thursday, experts said they expect the trend to continue as the global economic outlook remains volatile.
The event is organised by the Global Anti-Scam Alliance and is being held at The Hague Security Delta in the Netherlands, bringing together researchers, cyber-security experts and anti-scam agencies from around the world.
On Wednesday, Mr Camill Cebulla, the director of Singapore-based cyber-security company Group-IB, said it found that crypto scams had increased by 335 per cent in the first half of the year from the same period in 2021.
In the first six months of 2022, the company had identified more than 2,000 domains registered just to promote crypto scams.
Such scams use videos containing deepfakes of popular personalities such as tech tycoon Elon Musk, luring victims into a purported crypto giveaway in exchange for their crypto wallet details and personal information.
Group-IB found that there were about 20,000 viewers for each such fake crypto giveaway stream.
In one instance, Mr Cebulla said the team had monitored several crypto wallets controlled by scammers.
What they found was that within just three days, from Feb 16 to 18, more than US$1.68 million (S$2.4 million) was being stolen by the scammers through 281 transactions.
In Singapore, the number of crypto scams reported to the police has jumped fivefold since 2019, with 631 reports made last year.
In a written reply to a parliamentary question by Mr Melvin Yong (Radin Mas SMC) in October, Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam revealed that there were 125 such reports in 2019, and 397 in 2020.
The minister said the majority of those behind such scams are outside of Singapore, limiting how much law enforcement here can do.
“Our ability to solve these cases will depend on the level of cooperation from overseas law enforcement agencies, as well as their ability to track down these scammers,” he said.
“Where the money has been transferred overseas, recovery is even more difficult.”
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