From 2017, victims were said to have been persuaded to invest cryptocurrency in a legitimate-seeming firm called Exmount Holdings Group, which had a website, call center and sales staff.
Five people have been charged in Australia over a cold-call cryptocurrency investment fraud.
After an investigation by the Financial and Cyber Crime Group, State Crime Command, detectives allege that three men and two women duped over 100 investors into handing over A$2.7 million (around US$1.83 million) believing that they were generating significant profit.
That was not the case, however, according to a warning from Queensland police on Thursday.
The victims were allegedly lured into making a trial investment, with promises of high returns after they had invested more funds. They were provided website accounts where they could monitor the growth of their investment over the trial period.
Detective Superintendent Terry Lawrence of the Financial and Cyber Crime Group, said:
“When victims attempted to withdraw their capital, they could not. Their money had gone and any attempt they made to contact one of the companies or their staff was unsuccessful.”
Other entities and websites alleged to have been linked to the fraudulent scheme included “Exmount Holdings Ltd”, “The Quid Pro Quo Foundation”, “The Atlas Group”, “AFG Associates Pty Ltd”, “tradex123”, “exmounttrading”, “atlasfxgroup” and “amazonqus”, the police said.
The five individuals from Australia’s Gold Coast have now been charged with fraud and money laundering and will separately appear before a magistrates court on 9 August, 22 August and 5 November.
The Queensland police are still seeking other victims of the scam or people with information that may assist its enquiries.
Det. Sup. Lawrence warned the public to “be wary of any unsolicited telephone calls or emails offering investment opportunities and seek independent advice from friends, family or financial advisors”,
Australian Tax Office to Warn Investors Over Crypto Misreporting
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is set to issue warnings to hundreds of thousands of residents who may have traded cryptocurrencies.
As reported by news.com.au on Wednesday, up to 350,000 Australians will be contacted by the ATO in the coming weeks reminding them of their obligations when trading in digital assets like bitcoin (BTC).
Under Australian federal law, cryptocurrencies are considered as a form of property and are thereby subject to the same regulations relating to capital gains tax.
The ATO will ask those that traded cryptocurrencies throughout the 2017–2018 financial year to review their tax forms and declare instances in which they bought, sold or traded digital assets to make it easier come tax time.
As proof of trades, records kept by individuals should include exchange records, digital keys, and records of agents, as well as any legal or accounting costs associated with their trading activity. Further, the agency is asking individuals to keep a record of the Australian dollar exchange rate at the time of their transactions, as this might significantly impact earnings.
The tax office is utilizing its Data Matching Protocol for cryptocurrencies, which allows it to cross-check data it has on individuals with data provided by exchanges (dubbed crypto designated service providers) in an attempt to identify those who may have misreported on previous tax returns.
“Under this program we obtain cryptocurrency transaction data from currency exchanges on taxpayers who have bought and sold cryptocurrency”, an ATO spokesman said in the report.
The planned warnings come as other tax agencies around the world move to more closely monitor for tax evasion involving cryptocurrencies. The U.S. Internal Revenue Service last summer issued similar warning letters about misreporting income from trades, and released its first guidance on crypto tax for five years in October.
Ukraine also said in recent weeks that taxpayers will need to include crypto earnings in their returns, listing them under intangible property.