Scammers Impersonate Australian Entrepreneur in Fake Crypto Scam

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In Brief
  • Dick Smith, a high-profile Australian entrepreneur has been impersonated in a fake cryptocurrency promotion.

  • Scammers used false ads on local aviation forums and even in The Guardian newspaper.

  • Smith is currently battling with The Guardian to have the fake ads removed.

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Scammers have been using an Australian man’s identity to advertise fake crypto promotions to specific members of the local aviation industry.

The target? Dick Smith, a 76-year old aviator, and political activist. The perpetrators placed ads of Smith on several web sites, including the Professional Pilots Rumour Network (PPRuNe), writes the Australian Business Review.

Smith holds several world aviation records, including the first solo trans-Atlantic crossing by helicopter in 1982. He was naturally targeted for his high-profile status.

The professional pilots rumour network | Source: PPRuNe

Not So Crypto High-Flying

To make matters worse, Smith’s fake endorsements even appeared in the local Guardian newspaper, forcing the aviator to take legal action when no other option was available. Smith’s legal counsel, Mark O’Brien, engaged with editors at the outlet,

While we acknowledge that The Guardian Australia does take the fraudulent advertisements down once notified, that does not prevent your Australian readers from falling victim to this prolific cryptocurrency scam

The scheme is somewhat unique to the crypto space, given the flood of scammers that invade social media, primarily on Twitter. In this case, the tricksters appeared to have done their homework by targeting forums where Smith himself posts regularly.

The aviation industry, like most others, has buckled under the economic pressure of coronavirus. Australia’s largest airline, Qantas, laid off thousands of workers in June.

Some of the fake ads promised unrealistic returns within days, and Smith worried the false promises would harm not only the financially strained, but his reputation too.


O’Brien has given The Guardian two weeks to respond to the request, after which legal action will likely follow,

If we do not receive a satisfactory response within 14-days of the date of this letter, our instructions are to commence defamation proceedings against The Guardian Australia and its related entities

Australia has witnessed a notable uptick in crypto scammers in recent times. Conman Peter Foster allegedly swindled $1.73 million in bitcoin through his own identity theft efforts. Law enforcement tackled Foster on a beach after finally tracking him down.

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Ryan is BeInCrypto's U.S. Time Zone Editor. He's fascinated with the history and evolution of money and the role that crypto has to play in fixing a broken financial system. When not meticulously looking over the charts, he can be found jamming some board games or running the trails in his local nature reserve.

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