A cryptocurrency investment that seemed too good to be true ended up costing almost €10,000 – The Irish Times
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A cryptocurrency investment that seemed too good to be true ended up costing almost €10,000 – The Irish Times

In late February a reader, we'll call Joan, was on Facebook and found an article that looked like it came from a reputable Irish news source, highlighting how a The iconic Irish television personality has made a huge amount of money after a judiciously placed advertisement. Investing in cryptocurrency.

The article was filled with quotes from other famous Irish celebrities who also made a lot of cash in crypto.

You probably know where this is going, right?

But Joan did not do this.

“There was a link in the content and I clicked on the link and signed up to receive calls,” she writes. “Within five minutes a man rang me up, asked me a few questions about my age and, because I was 50, offered me a discount on the deposit.”

She told him the deposit was normally €250 but he signed her up for €200. These are good days, he thought.

“I gave him my credit card details to make the payment. He told me that the platform works on Artificial Intelligence and I would have nothing to do except watch my investment grow. They then told me that I would be assigned an account manager who would call me the next day and set me up for trading.

Sure enough the call came and the “investment manager” – a man called Max – had Joan download an app on which she could see that her €200 was now €208.

“Max told me he works on a 10 percent commission from my profits and that he would deduct his commission in mid-April,” she says.

“They asked me how much money I wanted to make and I said a few thousand euros would be great. He said I wouldn't be able to make that kind of money by depositing €200, so he gave me some profit figures if I could deposit more money. He told me that the value of Bitcoin was at an all-time high and that 'housing' profits were coming in mid-April 2024 and the more I invested, the more profit I could make back. I asked him where this company is based and he said Switzerland. Max and I spoke on the phone every 2-3 days, mainly for him to tell me about my profits,” writes Joan.

Then, two weeks after the first contact, Max sent Joan a message on Telegram saying “Her compliance department needed identification from me for compliance, so I sent her photos of my driver's license, back and front.” , He even asked me to send it to him.” A shot of me holding my driver's license in my hand”.

By the end of March, Joan had invested €8,500.

“I asked Max what would happen to my profit balance in mid-April and he said I could withdraw some or all of my money, in which case I wouldn't have to pay any tax. If I left some or all of my money there, I would have to pay tax, but I would only pay tax on my gains,” he said.

“They told me that I would get a tax certificate for the tax paid in Switzerland and the tax rate there is 15-20 percent. This Max guy even sent a really nice Happy Easter message to me and my family! He would sometimes ask if I needed to withdraw money, to which I said 'no' and that I was happy to increase my investments,” says Joan.

“I now realize that he was asking me this question because if I wanted to withdraw some of my money, he would tell me that tax would have to be paid and ask me to hand over more money for this withdrawal. ,

In late March he told a friend about his investment.

“She really suspected I was scammed and when I Googled the company all the reviews were saying it was a scam. Then I was very nervous that I might be cheated,” she adds.

“So I tested the Max guy to withdraw my money on Thursday 4th April 2024. He sent me a 'withdrawal form' which said I had to pay tax and commission of €1,800 to withdraw €9,000. I asked him Said I don't have any more money to pay tax/commission. I said I want to withdraw my deposit, so I won't have to pay any tax. Then I told him I want to close my deposit. Like he mentioned my money in the exchange market) and he told me that I am making a big mistake that I am going to lose all my profits. I told him that I am in financial trouble and I need my deposit. , which was now €8,500.

Max tells her she has to wait a week to get the money out and Joan thanks Max for his help.

“On Monday April 8th I opened the Telegram app to send Max a message about receiving my money and discovered that Max had deleted all our Telegram conversations and the login to my investment account had also disappeared.”

The disappointing reality is that her money is probably gone forever as she has apparently become the victim of an investment scam.

We sent the details to Niamh Davenport from FraudSmart, the anti-cybercrime unit of the Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland.

“Investment scams, including cryptocurrency scams, are on the rise and becoming more complex and sophisticated,” she says. “Fraudsters hide behind websites that may appear legitimate and use social media and online advertising to target victims with promises of high returns, often tricking people into sharing personal and financial information. Inspire for.

“Once a victim authorizes payment and the money reaches the fraudster's account, the criminal will immediately transfer the money to several other accounts, often abroad, where it is cashed out.”

She stresses that anyone who believes they have been the victim of fraud should report it to both their bank and An Garda Síochána as soon as possible. Every reported case of fraud is thoroughly investigated and banks and financial institutions will do their best to assist customers in recovering their funds if possible.

Ms Davenport says that as fraudsters are increasingly targeting consumers directly, “it is important for all of us to know how to protect ourselves.” In particular, the public should be wary of advertisements online and on social media platforms, even if they are paid or sponsored advertisements using familiar brand or business names. Stop by for consideration and contact the company freely to verify details.

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