Global losses from cryptocurrency fraud and theft surged massively in 2019, doubling from 2018. Despite multiple efforts to tackle fraudulent crypto schemes, countries like Belgium continued to suffer losses to crypto fraudsters.
According to a May 8 report by Belgian newspaper De Tijd, Belgium’s economic inspectorate reported 2.94 million euros ($3.2 million) in losses due to cryptocurrency fraud in 2019.
Figures continue to grow, but real numbers are apparently unreported
The recent figures show that the number of crypto fraud cases in Belgium has been growing in recent years. In 2018, Belgian’s Federal Public Service, known as FPS Economy, reported $2.5 million losses to crypto scams in the country.
What’s more, these growing numbers are apparently “just the tip of the iceberg” as the majority of fraud cases remain unreported.
Nathalie Muylle, Belgium’s minister of economy and consumer affairs, said that real losses were apparently higher than $3.2 million.
“The amounts are not always communicated by reporters," Muylle noted.
As previously reported, Belgian authorities estimate that local investors lose more than $150 million to scam schemes each year.
Belgium has taken multiple preventive measures to tackle crypto scams
According to Muylle, Belgium has mainly taken a preventive approach to fight crypto scams so far while prosecution measures are still undecided. In 2019, the economic inspectorate reportedly sent a related query to the public prosecutor’s office for fraud and is still waiting for a decision.
Belgian authorities have indeed taken multiple preventive measures to tackle the problem in recent years. In February 2020, Belgium’s Financial Services and Markets Authority, or FSMA, blacklisted a bunch of crypto-related fraudulent websites. Previously, FPS Economy rolled out a website to raise awareness of the risks associated with investments in crypto.
Meanwhile, the cryptocurrency industry apparently remains largely unregulated in Belgium to date. In February 2020, FSMA chairman Jean-Paul Servais urged the Senate to establish a “legal framework for the sale, purchase, and use of virtual currencies and all related financial products.” The official pointed out that fraudulent activities in the market will continue to impact investors if the industry remains unregulated.