• Australia’s financial crime agency publishes two guides on crypto. 
  • A financial agency wants businesses to stop paying ransomware attackers and using cryptos illegally.
  • Businesses should be alert to a rise in crypto crimes, according to Austrac.

On Tuesday, Australian regulators finalized the approval of Bitcoin and Ethereum exchange-traded funds.

This time, AUSTRAC, the country’s financial intelligence agency, has released two new financial crime guides to help businesses distinguish between illicit activities and customers using cryptos for legitimate purposes.

AUSTRAC’s guide has warned financial service providers to be vigilant about customers who have unexplained fund transfers and crypto wallet addresses that have been seen on darknet marketplaces.

Nicole Rose, CEO of the government agency, said businesses must recognize ransomware attack payments and criminal misuse of digital currencies.

“Financial service providers need to be alert to the signs of criminal use of digital currencies, including their use in ransomware attacks.”

These guides provide practical information and indicators to identify and report ransomware payments as well as money laundering and terrorism financing.

In addition, businesses have been asked to encourage their customers to report ransomware incidents to the government cyber service. The guide noted,

“Victims are often reluctant to report an attack and simply want to regain access to their machines and data to resume business.”

The move follows on from the recent launch of Australia’s first spot bitcoin and Ethereum ETFs by Swiss investment product issuer 21Shares and ETF Securities.

The digital economy is changing rapidly, but criminals are taking advantage of the crypto price jumps to commit crimes.

The government scam alert portal ScamWatch reports that over 10,000 scam reports were filed last year with losses of over $130 million. In March 2022 alone, Australians lost $95 million to scams. 

AUSTRAC noted that,

“According to the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), 500 ransomware attacks were reported in the 2020-21 financial year, an increase of nearly 15 percent from the previous year.”

The usage of crypto for criminal purposes “has no place in our sector,” said Blockchain Australia CEO Steve Vallas.

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