real life

'I’ve just fallen victim to an elaborate Bitcoin scam through Instagram. Here's what happened.'


Before you call me crazy, stupid or say I should’ve seen it coming – trust me, I already feel like that. I never saw myself as someone who’d become a cyber scam victim. Maybe it’s because I am vulnerable from losing my dad recently? Or maybe I just let my guard down? Anyway, I ask you go easy on me and anyone else who gets taken on a ride. 

Why?

Because most people feel too humiliated to share that they’ve been scammed, but by closing up and not sharing the story, more people will fall for their dirty tricks; these are scams that can leave lives in financial ruins.

Watch: A story shared about financial scam. Post continues after video.


Video via SBS Insight.

Thankfully, my life is not in ruins from my misjudgement. But I’m just going to put my dignity aside here to share with you how this scam panned out. 

Mine involves two hacked profiles, one that two of my friends had “followed” even though they hadn’t really, and a fake broker website – how’s that for a story.

I vetted the sh*t out of their profiles and checked their credentials as well. These scammers are getting hi-tech and it’s scary. But like everything, in hindsight, I should’ve seen it coming. 

I would first like to say “Laine Jane” has had her identity stolen and probably isn’t aware she is the face of this fraudulent scheme. She is not the scammer in this story. If she reads this story, please report what has happened to you to the police and Instagram. 

Here’s how it started. 

A friend of mine from high school posted about how he had made $38,000 from $2,000 from Bitcoin using his “coach” who advises him on what to do. He had tagged her, and I looked at her profile – she had friends and family tagged in photos, comments and fairly legit followers (although some seem purchased, a lot of people do this anyway). “Laine Jane’s” profile was also liked by two mutual friends.

I had heard of people making a tonne of money through Bitcoin and, more recently, I had been investing in a variety of shares.

I messaged my school friend and said, “Is this legit?”

He responded: “Yep, 100 per cent - she just takes 5 per cent commission for her time, but it works, it’s not a scam I promise.”

Wow, OK. So, I spoke with my husband about it and he agreed, why not try it? This school friend was a trustworthy person. I hadn’t seen him in years, but he wouldn’t set me up like this – no way. 

I messaged “Laine Jane” and told her I was interested in knowing more. She explained that I would need to buy Bitcoin through CoinSpot. She said within a day, I would see huge profits through her “coaching”. 

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She instructed me to download CoinSpot, an Australian bitcoin app, and told me to take a screenshot of my profile page once complete. It did not have any of my personal details at that stage. 

She then showed me how to buy the Bitcoin and told me to send it to a specific address code.

I asked her if she is going to take my money and she said she would, then she'd send it on to her broker who would invest in my account.

I was advised to set up my profile on their broker account.

In the meantime, I got a call from CoinSpot asking me if I wanted to approve the transaction. I told “Laine Jane” they had called me and she said: “Just tell them you are sending it to a friend because it can get complicated with a broker.”

I hesitated and told them it was for a broker... a gift for a friend who is going to a broker. They approved the funds.

Alarm bells started to ring. I messaged my school friend again, asking if it was a scam and if she was going to take my money. He insisted that no, she would invest my money with a broker.

I spoke with my husband and we both agreed it felt okay due to the “credibility of her profile” and how legitimate the broker website looked. Plus, the scam had my friend’s backing – it was the perfect storm. 

Never did I think for a second that my friend’s account had been hacked by someone involved in this cyber scam as well. He had posted not long before that, so it seemed unlikely that he was involved.

Within an hour, my account showed up with $38,000.

Straight away I thought it was too fast, too good to be true. I tried withdrawing the funds through my direct debit account but it wouldn't work so I messaged “Laine Jane” and asked her what was going on.

She told me to start by withdrawing $10,000, then to refresh my page. 

After I did that, I got a message asking me to pay another $1,000 as the fee to the broker.

That’s when I knew, I had been f**ked over. 

When I messaged "Laine Jane" to confront her, she blocked me.

I reported her account on Instagram, but does Instagram shut these people down? No. There are too many of them to police. 

There’s no way I will ever get my money back. Was I just stupid? Or should there be further personal identity measures to set-up profiles on Instagram and other social media platforms?

Listen to What The Finance and join Melissa Browne talk about the most common scams out there. Post continues after podcast.

Two things I have learnt that I already knew, but just learnt again the hard way:

1. Nothing is ever free. Very rarely. You have to work hard to get a reward.

2. Social media can be a terrifying world and it is hard to navigate what's real and what isn't - be careful out there, guys.

Please learn from my mistake. I hope I have saved you a few thousand dollars - you’re welcome.

Feature Image: Canva.

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