Published:
December 21, 2019 8:00 PM UTC

Sorry, Bitcoin Scam Victims – But No One Can Hear You Scream

A new Bitcoin user just got burned in their first scam. But their pleas for an authority figure naturally fell on deaf ears.

  • Bitcoin scam victim makes an appeal to authority – but no such authority exists.
  • The independence afforded by Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is a double-edged sword.
  • In crypto, no one can hear you scream.

A cryptocurrency user appeared on the Bitcoin subreddit seeking legal recourse after becoming the victim of a Bitcoin (BTC) scammer.

After losing $200 worth of Bitcoin, the Redditor sought out a legal authority to whom they could report the crime.

But in the cryptocurrency world, any step you take could be your last. The replies which met the user’s Reddit plea are a reminder that there’s little room for error when you assume control of your own finances.

Bitcoin Scam Victim: Someone Help Me!

Bitcoin users must reckon with the risks of controlling their own finances. | Source: Motortion Films/Shutterstock.com

From the post titled ‘I got scammed…Where to report?’, the user who goes by u/Noah0628 wrote:

I got scammed using bitcoin. Where do I go to report the address? Can some LE [law enforcement] help in the matter? Feel like there’s no one to help on this issue[.]

In reply, commenters wasted no time in telling u/Noah0628 that there was very little they could do to reverse the sands of time. Once a Bitcoin transaction is made, there is no way to bring it back. As one commenter explained:

Bitcoin transactions are not reversible. You can not report the Bitcoin address to anybody. A Bitcoin address is a single-use token. Your scammer only used the address once[.]

Whereas a bank account is linked to anyone who opens it, no such constraints are placed on Bitcoin users. The flipside is that the same users don’t benefit from the letter of the law when things go wrong.

Another commenter sarcastically suggested the victim seek help from Bitcoin’s CEO. Hint: No such CEO exists:

Good. The less idiots like you the better. Your own greed got you scammed. Dumbasses giving away their coins because of greed. Full stop! Else contact the CEO of Bitcoin at ceobitcoin@imajack.*ss.

No Gray Areas Here

Crypto’s censorship-resistance often leaves scam victims with little recourse. | Source: Focus and Blur/Shutterstock.com

The scam victim alleged that criminal matters concerning Bitcoin remain trapped in a legal gray area. Describing how much they lost, the user wrote:

Roughly 0.03 btc ~$200 usd. Not a huge amount, but a loss for sure. Just sucks because btc is such a gray area in terms of recovery from LE.

However, the truth is that there’s very little gray area to be found. As another commenter pointed out, the situation is actually pretty black and white:

Haha gray? Not at all. You’re in charge. In the future some private company may provide some crypto style” fdic” type insurance but be prepared to get grilled and thoroughly investigated . We’re a long way away from that if ever. Sucks man. Don’t trust anyone. Triple check every action at minimum and if it’s too good to be true it for sure is.

The only recourse left to a victim of such a scam is to report as much identifying information as possible to the police. While the Bitcoin address would be almost useless, any correspondence,  email addresses, or social media profiles could presumably aid police in a criminal investigation.

But that assumes your local police force would have the man-power, resources or inclination to tackle such a crime.

In Crypto, No One Can Hear You Scream

When you decide to use Bitcoin you remove yourself from the mainstream safeguards which protected you all your life. You find yourself legally and financially alone.

There’s no one to complain to; no one in a uniform can solve your problems. Some people will rise up to meet the responsibility demanded by such a challenge. Others will shy away from it.

Ultimately, when there’s no one watching over your shoulder, there’s no one to hear you scream.

This article was edited by Josiah Wilmoth.

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Last modified: January 22, 2020 11:40 PM UTC

Greg Thomson @@gregthomson88

Greg Thomson is a blockchain and cryptocurrency journalist who wades through the dirt so you don't have to. He contributed to numerous crypto news outlets before joining CCN.com and Hacked in 2018. Based in Glasgow, Scotland.

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