A Tennessee man is devastated after a scammer on WhatsApp fools him into investing into cryptocurrency. Find out what happened to this wishful cryptocurrency investor.
Most “pig butchering” scams take place as described in the following story. Pig butchering is when an unknown person, a stranger, contacts a victim by phone, text, email or WhatsApp and start an unlikely “friendship” with the victim. After a period of building a friendship, the stranger then turns the friendship into an “investment opportunity” with “too good to be true” returns.
The scammer only has one intention in mind: To steal money.
Ricky Smith Fell for the Cryptocurrency Scam
58-year-old Ricky Smith of Memphis, Tennessee didn’t see it coming, but now that he’s been through it, all he has left is his story after the scammers took every penny of his life savings — to the tune of $80,000.00 USD.
“People be careful, please…I’m in a terrible situation now because I have no other assets at this point. That was life savings.” -Ricky Smith, victim of cryptocurrency scam (Source: CBS News 42)
Here’s what happened:
In May 2022, Ricky Smith was first contacted on Facebook by an unknown individual, regarding an investment opportunity, and he then communicated with a woman on WhatsApp. She directed him to begin investing into cryptocurrency on a website.
Ricky says in hindsight, it was not a legitimate cryptocurrency site. He thought it was real in the beginning, but his money had disappeared behind the scenes.
“So I decided to try it,” he said. “I said, ‘Okay I’ll try it just to test the water’ and I’ll put $500 in there at first and see what happens, you know? And when I put $500 in there, there was a gain, and I was able to get it out. But the more I kept putting in and I was gaining, I didn’t really just take it right back out.” -Ricky Smith, victim of cryptocurrency scam (Source: CBS News 42)
As the website continued to show Ricky his cryptocurrency gains on his investment, in reality, it was all just smoke and mirrors. He never attempted to withdraw his money in the beginning, because it was doing so great.
The unrealized gains he thought he was making on his cryptocurrency investments, were all fabricated numbers. His real money was already long gone.
“And before you know it, when I tried to take it down, they said, ‘hold up, you have to pay taxes on this money.” -Ricky Smith, victim of cryptocurrency scam (Source: CBS News 42)
Ricky Kept Paying ‘Taxes’ and Received Nothing in Return
As Ricky paid tens of thousands of dollars into the fake cryptocurrency investment site, he was informed he needed to pay an additional $48,000.00 if he wanted to become a VIP member. At that point, he knew it was a scam.
“I knew I was got at that point….Scamming is really real out here, and I am one of the prime examples of why I want to get this message out so no on else can be hurt or get mistreated in this way,” Ricky Smith, victim of cryptocurrency scam (Source: CBS News 42)
Ricky Smith filed a report with the police and is now working with federal agencies to try and get his money back, although it is very unlikely.
Better Business Bureau Weighs in on Cryptocurrency Scams
CBS News 42 spoke to Daniel Irwin of the Better Business Bureau, and he says investment scams are all too common, promising uncommonly big returns.
“Crypto scams are quickly becoming one of the biggest scams we see…There’s nothing low risk about investments in general, especially cryptocurrency investments.” -Daniel Irwin, Better Business Bureau (Source: CBS News 42)
Ricky Smith was a victim of an investment scam, but a little knowledge beforehand could have helped prevent this costly mistake.
The following tips can help anyone avoid these types of scams.
Tips on How to Avoid Cryptocurrency Investment Scams
There are ways to protect yourself from becoming a victim of a cryptocurrency investment scam.
Here are a few tips:
- Never respond to emails, phone calls, texts, or WhatsApp messages from strangers. The only messages you should respond to are from people you know. Public officials in the U.S. (i.e. Doctors, nurses, lawyers, polices officers) never send texts, emails or WhatsApp messages to the public asking for money. Delete this messages, and screen phone calls.
- Contact technical support directly. Only contact a company (i.e. Amazon, Best Buy, Microsoft) through a legitimate company number that can be looked up and verified online.
- Never call phone numbers provided in an email. Always look up the phone number from a corporate website, and never rely on info. in the email to contact the company.
- Scammers can get your name and info. Just because they have your name, doesn’t mean they really know you. There are a million ways scammers can get your name and your phone number. It doesn’t mean they know you. Ignore these spam calls. You aren’t saving the world by giving them a piece of your mind.
- Don’t answer phone calls from numbers you don’t recognize. If you receive an important call, they will leave a voicemail. Don’t necessarily trust the number given to you in the voicemail. Always look up the legitimate company phone number and call it directly, and ask for the person contacting you.
- Never give remote access to your computer to anyone that contacts you in an email or phone call. Real technical support doesn’t operate this way. It will never end well. In fact, you don’t have to tell anyone that emails or calls you that you own a computer. Tell them, “I don’t own a computer” — (this excuse will save you from many scams). Then, they can never scam you with your own computer.
- Only give investment money to a licensed broker. Never ever trust investment money to a stranger. Tell them: “My broker handles all of my investments.”
Always be on high alert for scammers because they will keep trying different methods until they find success. These tips will protect you from becoming a victim of the next financial scam.
Arthur, Shay. “Tennessee cryptocurrency scam victim loses $80K in life savings.” CBS News 42. 17 August 2022.