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ROP cautions against trading fake cryptocurrency

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MUSCAT: Promoting and dealing in fake digital currencies is considered a modern criminal phenomenon that has lately become commonplace owing to the technological development and the spread of electronic means of payment.

Fraudsters use a multitude of methods to dupe their victims into trading in digital currencies on fake platforms operated from outside the Sultanate of Oman.

Brigadier Jamal bin Habib al Quraishi, Director-General of Inquiries and Criminal Investigations said that fake cryptocurrencies are traded and stored electronically. Those virtual currencies do not exist in the real world and are run by anonymous networks. Fraud crimes have become widespread in the Sultanate of Oman this year compared to the previous years which requires spreading awareness on how to protect ourselves from falling victim to such frauds.

The Director-General of Inquiries and Criminal Investigation said it is impossible to identify all platforms trading cryptocurrencies because they are operated from outside the Sultanate of Oman and most of them are used for committing multiple crimes related to electronic fraud. The Directorate-General of Inquires and Criminal Investigation has recently registered several fraud crimes as a result of direct dealings with fake platforms for trading digital currencies.

False advertisements posted on social media are the common means of promoting fake cryptocurrency platforms due to their professional design which target to attract and persuade victims who end up transferring hefty sums of money to the fraudsters. These ads focus on the emotional aspect of the targeted people using catchy discourse and fake success stories. For example, a person appears in a video clip on social media recounting his success story of how managed to make a fortune within a short period of time and minimal effort through digital currency trading, Al Quraishi said.

These criminal methods do not exclude any segment of the society, however the youth are the most vulnerable due to their strong quest for a prosperous future and the fulfilment of their aspirations and ambitions which drives them to seek methods of getting money within a short span of time, he said.

Fake digital currencies have no economic source and consequently no real value meaning that their traders and owners are prone to huge financial loss. The lack of monitoring and control over money transfer through cryptocurrency can facilitates the commitment of crimes such as money laundering, drug dealing and financing of terrorism, he said.

Any person who sets up digital platforms for trading fake cryptocurrencies with the purpose of seizing others’ money is deemed perpetrator of cybercrime as per the Sultanate of Oman’s Cyber Crime Law which criminalizes the utilization of information technology in producing programmes, tools or devices designed or adapted for the purposes of committing cyber crimes, Al Quraishi said.

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