Virtual currency crime spikes in South Africa

Peer-to-peer (P2P) bitcoin marketplace and digital wallet provider Paxful says according to cyber security experts, virtual currency related crime is on the rise in South Africa – with hackers using people’s phones to mine cryptocurrencies.

The company says South Africa is one of its top markets and it processes over 50,000 trades a day. It has noticed a 2800% increase in trades from South Africa in October 2019 compared to the same period last year.

In a media statement, Paxful said Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town are the three cities that dominate in the number of users, and overall the number of trades across Africa has grown by 64% when comparing the same time period.

The company believes that whilst the vast majority of cryptocurrency trades are safe, in recent years, the sector has not proved completely immune to scams and fraudulent transactions. With the cryptocurrency industry still fairly new, scammers prey on users who lack the appropriate awareness in this space.

Ray Youssef, co-founder and chief executive officer of Paxful, said, “Bitcoin is secure but sometimes the way we use it is unsafe. We have to treat bitcoin like cash and protect our personal information and passwords the same way we do when we use an ATM or shop online. Once your bitcoin is in the hands of hackers and scammers, it is irreversible, so to have the necessary safeguards in place is critical.”

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