Text from a stranger leads to cryptocurrency scam costing investor $35,000

BALTIMORE – Cryptocurrency is better known, but it is still misunderstood and costing consumers billions of dollars. A Maryland man recently fell into this trap after receiving a text message from a stranger.

It came from an unknown number and included a photograph of a young woman.

"Sorry, wrong person," the man responded.

But that didn't seem to matter.

“We chat about family and where we've been, what we do in our lives,” he said.

Then the topic took a turn.

“How long did it take you to start talking to him about investing and cryptocurrencies?” Mallory Sofastaii asked.
“It was probably about a week. It was a gradual buildup,” she said.

We are not identifying this man because he is concerned that sharing his experience could affect his employment, but he wants to warn others about how these scammers entrap investors.

“Personally I don't want to work for the rest of my life, so I'm trying to get some kind of savings. It all sounded very convincing as to how it works, they are short term, you can make money up or down depending on how the market goes,” she explained.

The woman claimed to be a leader in the field of investments, with a specialization in economics, and would teach him how to obtain the highest returns.

“She explained to me how to transfer funds. In the end, I transferred over $35,000 in two different transactions,” she said.

And it seemed to have paid off.

“So I made about $150,000,” he said.
“Had your original investment of $35,000 become more than $100,000?” -Sofastaii asked.
"Oh, yes," he replied.
“What deadline?” -Sofastaii asked.
“One month, one month,” he said.

But when he tried to withdraw money, he was told he would have to pay more than $30,000 in taxes.

“And I had 10 days to get this money or they were going to charge me a 5 percent daily tax. If I didn't do anything, they said they would consider me just walking away. So yeah, I had to get away from that. Basically, I lost about $35,000,” she lamented.

The trading platform had a name similar to that of GMO (Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo), a global investment firm. A spokesperson for Royal OGM said the website/platform was not affiliated with the investment firm, and sent a link to a warning on its website about scammers using its name and reputation to scam potential investors.

“Losing that money, what effect will it have on your retirement plan?” -Sofastaii asked.
“Well, it puts it off for a significant period of time. Yes, it hurts a lot,” he replied.

Answering the phone or responding to a text message from someone you don't know tells the scammer that your number is active. The best thing you can do is not reply and delete the message.

Please note that no legitimate company or government agency will demand payments in cryptocurrency. And only scammers will guarantee profits or large benefits.

Click here for additional information from the Federal Trade Commission on cryptocurrency scams.

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