By CCN.com: An 82-year-old British woman has spoken out about her “seven months of hell” after bitcoin thieves stole “all her money.”
Speaking to Which?, she said :
“It was seven months of hell. I had to pick up odd jobs just to survive – they took all my money. I couldn’t stop crying for months and I absolutely never cry.”
Johanna Butt fell victim to a bitcoin scam on Facebook that promised returns of $13,000 per day. After agreeing to a small £300 ($396) initial investment with “Bitcoin Loophole,” the hackers drained her account of £8,500 ($11,224).
The 82-year old was intrigued after seeing an advert on Facebook featuring renowned British investor and millionaire Deborah Meaden. Meaden is a star on Dragon’s Den, the UK’s version of Shark Tank.
The endorsement was, of course, fake, as confirmed by Meaden herself on Twitter.
But it was enough to trick Johanna Butt who clicked on the advert. She later spoke to a salesman from scam site Bitcoin Loophole.
“The man I spoke to was extremely plausible. Over the course of two hours he explained to me how it all worked, how they made me money and what was in it for them. He didn’t pressure me into investing but made it sound all so sensible – he even asked how I’d spend the money I’d make. I told him I’d like to go on a nice holiday.”
This isn’t the first time fake celebrity endorsements have tricked unsuspecting bitcoin investors. The founder of Britain’s largest personal finance website, Martin Lewis, has repeatedly warned his followers about the fake use of his name and image to promote bitcoin scams.
“Sadly we’ve already heard of people who’ve lost over £20,000. The thought of that makes me feel physically sick. I’ve spent my career trying to campaign for financial justice and now these b*****ds leach off that trust to rob vulnerable people.”
According to some Twitter users, the same scam was still being circulated months later on social media.
A recent CipherTrace report concluded that $725 million was lost to cryptocurrency scams in 2018 alone. Ponzi schemes, fraudulent ICOs, and celebrity scams like Bitcoin Loophole are still rampant, despite the declining interest in bitcoin.
2018 was also a record year for hacks with $1 billion stolen from cryptocurrency exchanges. Earlier this year, one California engineer lost $420,000 in life savings in the QuadrigaCX debacle.
The best advice to avoid a similar scam? Do your own research, trust only reputable bitcoin companies, and ideally store cryptocurrency in your own cold storage wallet. Most important of all, if something seems too good to be true (like the promise of $13,000 gains per day) it probably is.