It doesn’t matter who you are, virtually everyone in the cryptocurrency world has been scammed at one point or another. Whether it happens as you reach out for help in a Telegram group and the scammer changes the code in your wallet, or someone coerces you into investing in their fake trading platform, there are hundreds of different types of scammers out there.
To help shed light on just how easy it is to lose your money in the crypto world, a BBC journalist is opening up about his experience of having $30,000 in Ethereum (ETH) stolen from his wallet.
You Can’t Buy Common Sense
During the height of the 2017 crypto mania that saw Ethereum reach its all-time high price of $1,432.88, BBC Journalist Monty Munford decided to get a slice of the action. Chasing the dreams of 10,000% gains that Bitcoin had already realized, Munford sunk $30,000 into Ethereum in the middle of 2017. In the wake of numerous crypto exchanges getting hacked, Munford downloaded MyEtherWallet and sent all of his Ethereum to his new wallet, thinking it was safe.
That’s where the fun ended for Munford – and his common sense ran out. In a bid to have quick and easy access to his crypto, Munford decided to store his private keys in his Gmail drafts folder. Surprise, surprise, when Ethereum hit its all-time high Munford went to check his Ethereum, only to find that it was all gone. While Munford did right to take his ETH off of the exchange and stuck to the ideologies of not your keys not your crypto, storing the private key in Gmail was a terrible mistake.
Tracking the Thief
As soon as Munford saw that his crypto had been sent to a different address, he contacted the US-based blockchain forensics company, CipherBlade. He then sent the results of the investigation to Binance – this is where his ETH was sent – who did their best to track it down. Within a week, Binance had useful information and passed it on to his local cybercrime unit in the UK. They had managed to trace the transactions to an IP address from the Netherlands, but the trail went cold.
Munford has learned his lesson and wants to share his story with the world so that other newbies to the crypto world don’t make the same mistake. Had Munford followed the instructions during the setup of MyEtherWallet, he would never have suffered this fate. It was only after he cut corners and stored his private keys online that he lost his crypto. The moral of the story is always keep your private keys offline, written by hand on paper, never online – unless you want to be robbed, of course.