NAB’s Action Against Crypto-Related Scams
In response to the escalating crypto-based scam crisis, the National Australia Bank (NAB) has restricted suspected fraudulent payments to certain centralized crypto exchanges (CEXs). This action comes as part of a unified effort among Australian financial institutions to stem the tide of scams related to cryptocurrencies.
Crypto’s Popularity Amid Increasing Scam Threats
According to a report by the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), nearly 15% of Australian investors hold bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies in their portfolios. This statistic underlines the tremendous demand for blockchain-based digital assets in the country. However, malevolent actors are capitalizing on this growing interest, running scam schemes that defraud unsuspecting victims.
NAB has identified these schemes as a rapidly expanding security concern that caused losses of $151 million to Australian investors in 2022 alone. It points to the increase in these scam schemes as the primary reason for blocking some payments to ‘high-risk’ centralized exchanges.
Transnational Crime Syndicates Behind Scams
The bad actors behind these scam schemes are part of international criminal syndicates, transferring stolen funds to offshore platforms. The NAB’s decision underscores the gravity of this transnational menace.
A Broader Trend Among Australian Banks
Australia’s largest lender, the Commonwealth Bank (CBA), also imposed restrictions on crypto payments to exchanges last month, citing a heightened risk of fraudulent transactions. Other major Australian financial institutions, such as the Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. and Westpac Banking Corp., have taken similar steps recently. These decisions have elicited criticism from various market stakeholders.
While NAB has not specified the exchanges affected by these restrictions, it’s noteworthy that Binance, a prominent exchange, has been subject to increased scrutiny in Australia recently.
Australia’s Steps to Combat Crypto Crimes
In response to the rising wave of crypto crimes, Australian authorities announced plans last February to enlarge the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s (ASIC) digital assets team and strengthen enforcement actions. This proactive approach is indicative of the country’s commitment to ensuring a safe and secure crypto environment for its citizens.