TORONTO — Two Ontario women are speaking out and warning others about cryptocurrency scams after they lost more than $100,000.
“I feel devastated. I really don’t know what to do right now,” said Lee”of Toronto, who asked CTV News Toronto not to use her real name.
Lee said she was on Facebook when someone reached out to her and said they could teach her how to make easy money investing in cryptocurrencies.
“After we started the trade option I was amazed because my money went up really quick,” Lee said.
She started investing with $2,000, then a few thousand more, and as her account seemed to go up, the person she was dealing with encouraged her to put in more money.
“I put all my money in, my savings, I even withdrew my RRSP and put it there and even borrowed money from friends,” Lee said.
After she had invested $24,000, she decided to take money out of her account, but that’s when she was told there was a $5,000 tax for withdrawals and then another $5,000 miner’s tax.
Her account was eventually frozen and she believes all her money is now gone.
“I’m thinking about the money I borrowed from my friend, even my savings, like my RRSP is gone. I just can’t believe it,” said Lee.
Another woman from Toronto, Mel, who also asked CTV News Toronto not to use her real name, said she invested in cryptocurrencies after connecting with someone on a dating website.
“They would boast about their trading accounts, how much they made and then they would ask you if you would be all right with them teaching you how to trade,” said Mel.
She also started off with a few thousand, but kept investing more. When it appeared her account was worth more than $100,000 she wanted to withdraw money, but she was also told she would have to pay taxes and fees to get the money out.
She eventually gave the person she met through the dating website $80,000 and is unable to get it back.
“So now I’m really freaking out because I’m like $80,000 in and I really need that money,” said Mel, who added “I know the money is gone, it’s probably all gone.”
David Khalif, with Viridi Funds, is a cryptocurrency expert who says scammers are using social media as a tool to find victims.
“I think this is the hard part about crypto, and that’s finding a trustworthy source,” said Khalif.
Khalif said investors have to be careful of investment promises that seem too good to be true and only deal with reputable sources and not someone who reached out to them through social media.
“It’s really a matter of understanding that the person on the other side of the screen, if you don’t know them, they could be anyone in the world,” said Khalif.
Khalif advises investors to do their due diligence and only deal with trustworthy exchanges, because once you send money to someone who claims to be investing in cryptocurrencies on your behalf it’s almost impossible to get back.
“Unfortunately, there is no way to get that money back once you send it on the blockchain. It’s not like a person can call someone, like a bank and say this was fraud,” said Khalif.
Mel has accepted she will likely never see her $80,000 again.
“Because I authorized the e-transfers, I authorized the cash withdrawals, it’s all on me. The banks cannot say it’s fraud. So there is no way I’m getting any of the money back,” said Mel. “I want people to know this is happening, because I think more and more people will fall victim to this.”
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