A new Bitcoin scam has been uncovered in France, and the losses by victims are more than 31 million euros.
Cryptocurrencies went on a massive bull run in the latter half of 2018. The entire market reached $800 million in capitalization, and Bitcoin led the charge. The world’s foremost cryptocurrency went from roughly a $1,000 to an all-time high close to $20,000. The hype was going full throttle, and many people were eager to jump onto the crypto train and become rich. It is during such times that scams are launched to lure the unwary into giving away their money. Such was the case in France as a massive Bitcoin scam has been uncovered.
Liberty, Equality, Bitcoin Scam!
News media in France are reporting that the Autorité des marchés Financiers (AMF), the stock market’s law enforcement, have released details of a massive Bitcoin scam. The entire criminal operation began early in 2018 while Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies were still riding high.
The victims were steered into the scam through ads and professional-looking websites. The goal of the scammers was to receive the name and phone number of the victims. The scammers would then call the hopeful investors and promise exciting and very profitable investment opportunities in the cryptocurrency ecosystem. Money was collected to purchase Bitcoin, but the money actually went straight into the scammers’ pockets.
Overall, more than 700 French citizens fell prey to the Bitcoin scam. The total loss is at least 31 million euros (around $35 million USD). Me Hélène Féron-Poloni, a lawyer specializing in heritage issues, notes:
Bitcoin is very complex to understand, very technical. Savers do not necessarily understand what is happening but simply say: this time, I do not miss the opportunity to earn money.
So far, authorities have identified more than 200 fraudulent websites used for the scam. However, France is not alone in her crypto misery. Belgium reportedly has seen cryptocurrency scams in excess of 100 million euros.
It seems that everywhere you look, another Bitcoin scam has arisen. Thailand recently saw a Finnish man get ripped off to the tune of over 5,500 bitcoins. The victim was lucky as he managed to get his crypto back, allowing him to drop his criminal complaint.
Others have not been so fortunate. A man in New Zealand lost $320,000 in a scam, which was made worse as he took out a bank loan for the money. He’ll spend years paying back the loan.
Law enforcement in India has moved to seize assets of the person behind a cryptocurrency scam worth $6 million. Authorities in countries like Australia and Singapore have issued warnings to protect consumers.
The reality is that scammers abound. The easy ability to make near-instantaneous, cross-border payments is a boon to finance and individuals, but it’s also a boon to criminals as they can easily steal crypto from anywhere in the world and quickly move it around. Researchers have found that Twitter is home to more than 15,000 bots that are solely designed to push cryptocurrency scams.
The result of such scams is that one should always be vigilant. Do your due diligence, and promises of quick and massive returns on investments should serve as red flags.
Have you ever fallen prey to a Bitcoin scam? Let us know in the comments below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock.
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