The $25,000 Crypto Scam and How to Protect Yourself

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Cryptocurrency scams are one of the unfortunate sides of the space, and there’s a good chance that we will all face a hack, a scam, or some other kind of malpractice if we’re dabbling in the sector for any length of time. We spoke to a victim of a cryptocurrency scam who was willing to share his story, which contains an important lesson for everyone.

The Admin Appears

I bought almost 5,000 TokenPay coins as ICO, totaling about $25,000 worth, and began staking them. Suddenly my staking stopped working and I messaged the Telegram support group to elicit help. Within a few minutes I received a message from someone who claimed to be an admin offering assistance. This was before admins were denoted as such within Telegram, so before replying I searched his name in the group and found that everything checked out – this guy had helped plenty of people in the past and his username, email and avatar all matched up.

Inadequate Protection

The admin and I exchanged some messages and he advised some changes I could make to my wallet. These led nowhere and, over the space of a few days, we exhausted every angle. Then one day he sent me some code to put into the wallet file. This rang alarm bells, especially when he offered to do it himself after I couldn’t find where to put the code, so I asked another admin in the group if this was safe, but didn’t get a reply. Why I didn’t ask in the group, I don’t know. Maybe I didn’t want to offend the admin by questioning his authenticity. I figured though that if I sent my coins to someone I trusted before I sent the wallet, then they would be safe (well, safer). So I sent a friend my coins and sent the admin the empty wallet file.

The Coins Vanish

A few hours later the admin sent the wallet file back asked me to stake for 24 hours to see if it had worked. Thinking that I could no longer lose my coins I reinstalled the wallet and checked everything was ok. Nothing was amiss, so I asked my friend to send my coins back to me. I watched them arrive, watched them confirm, and felt my stomach fall through the floor as I saw them go straight out again. I knew in a second what had happened, and I felt immediately like I’d been punched in the stomach. I closed down the app and turned off my internet connection out of sheer panic, knowing that by now it was too late but desperate to try anything. By this point the adrenaline had kicked in and my body was preparing to fight, but there was no one to be angry at except myself. There was nothing I could do except sit there with the blood pumping in my ears, on the verge of vomiting, knowing that in about a minute’s time $25,000 worth of coins were on their way to someone who, with my consent and help, had slowly scammed me over about a week.

Uncovering the Scam

Perhaps unsurprisingly I couldn’t sleep, so I sat up all night trying to find out how I’d been hoodwinked. The scammer had deleted his side of our conversation, and in fact his entire account, but I could still see his details. I did some digging and found that, on closer inspection, he had impersonated everything about the real admin of the same name except he had replaced an uppercase ‘i’ (I) with a lowercase ‘L’ (l). They looked identical, and that was the only difference between the two. Plus he hadn’t rushed me, he had played the long game, not wanting to appear to be hurrying me, which gave me a false sense of reassurance. I contacted everyone I couldn’t think of, including the only exchange that sold the coins, but no one would help me, and in the end I just resigned myself to defeat. TokenPay is a high-tech privacy coin, and there was no way I was going to be able to track him down. The tokens were gone, and that was that.

Lessons Learnt

The fake admin scam turns out to be one of the most common, and successful, scams, which is why you’ll see groups warning members never to respond to an admin who contacts you first. Don’t take this warning lightly – treat it as a golden rule. And, for the love of God, don’t send anyone your wallet file!