Five people have been charged with fraud and money laundering after an investigation into a cryptocurrency investment scam on the Gold Coast.
More than 100 victims have lost a total of $2.7 million to the scam since 2017.
Police allege that three women and two men, aged between 21 and 56, were part of a criminal syndicate that offered victims the chance to invest in cryptocurrencies with Exmount Holdings Group.
The company appeared legitimate with sales staff, a call centre, and websites containing dead links and bizarrely capitalised bodies of text.
After an initial trial investment – promising significant returns with more money – the alleged scammers gave victims login details for a website where they could watch their money grow.
But when victims tried to withdraw their money, it was gone and any attempt to contact the organisation proved unsuccessful.
From the Exmount Holdings website About Us page.
Detective Superintendent Terry Lawrence of the Queensland Police Financial and Cyber Crime Group said this kind of organised fraud had a significant impact on the community.
“While these arrests are significant and a step forward in a complex and protracted investigation, we are continuing to conduct enquiries,” he said.
We would like to speak with anyone who feels they may have fallen victim to this criminal activity or may have information that could assist our enquiries.
“We ask the community to remain resilient against this type of offending. Always be wary of and maintain control of your finances.
“Ask yourself if you are in control of these transactions, be wary of any unsolicited telephone calls or emails offering investment opportunities and seek independent advice from friends, family or financial advisors.”
More Aussies falling for crypto scams
As cryptocurrencies have seen a rise in value, so has the number of crypto investment scams.
The ACCC has received reports of nearly $15 million lost to cryptocurrency scams between January and July of this year.
Delia Rickard, Deputy Chair of the ACCC, warned that there are a number of methods scammers use to trick into giving them money.
“Our advice is to be wary of ads you see on the internet,” she said.
“Don’t be persuaded by celebrity endorsements or ‘not to be missed’ opportunities. You never know for certain who you’re dealing with or whether they’re credible.”
Early last year, fraudsters took to Twitter pretending to be Elon Musk and solicited $20,000 worth of the Ethereum cryptocurrency.