Investment scams are growing in frequency and damage. (Images: Getty).

Australians have lost $70 million to investment scams in the first six months of 2021, already eclipsing total losses in all of 2020.

Total investment scam losses are expected to reach $140 million by the end of the year, with new Scamwatch data revealing a 53.4 per cent increase in investment scam reports this year.

“Investment scams are more prevalent than ever, and scammers are capitalising on interest in cryptocurrency in particular,” Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) deputy chair Delia Rickard said.

“More than half of the $70 million in losses were to cryptocurrency, especially through Bitcoin, and cryptocurrency scams were also the most commonly reported type of investment scam, with 2,240 reports.”

WATCH: Four tips for spotting scams.

Investment scams also carry a hidden sting, with victims also at risk of fraud or identity theft, the ACCC said.

“Be wary of investment opportunities with low risk and high returns. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” Rickard said.

Cryptocurrency investment scam red flags

Cryptocurrency scams involving Bitcoin have so far cost Australians $25.7 million in 2021 – already surpassing the total $17.8 million loss in 2020.

Scammers will often pretend they have lucrative trading systems based on algorithms or expertise they’ve developed, and may also use fake celebrity endorsements to appeal to victims.

Often, victims will…

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