You have probably heard it before: the internet is like the wild west. And in many ways, it is.
Because internet transactions occur globally it is difficult to enforce national laws that protect people from scammers and other criminals. The victim is left without any authority to complain of claim for the fraud.
That doesn’t mean that everyone doing business online is trying to defraud you, but It does stress the point that you must be careful who you trust with your money.
A friend of mine had been approached by an investment advisor online. She had already paid some USD 300 by the time she told me about this investment. She was expecting to receive over USD 7,000 from her investment in that crypto-forex-binary trading (it was never quite clear how the money was being made) platform. That is a return of more than a 2,000 % in just 3 months! First red flag.
The catch was that she couldn’t receive the funds. There was a verification that was required before she could withdraw her money from the platform. She could access her account on www.livecryptoforex.com and it would show a growing balance, she was up to a full bitcoin.
Her account manager tells her that she needs to fund her account with another USD 200 in order to be able to withdraw. That’s when she contacted me to lend her the money, which I did, even though I had some doubts about this transaction. Second red flag.
A quick background check of the “platform” turned up plenty of dissatisfied customer comments on different websites. I checked the address and data of the company and there were plenty discrepancies. For example, their physical address was a PO Box in California, but they listed a Kentucky phone number as their contact information. The broker was using a WhatsApp account with a New York City area code. Third red flag.
The broker asked for our banking information to send us a money transfer. We transfer the additional funds, but the next day he claims there is a problem with the platform that doesn’t allow the withdrawal. He even sends me a printout showing all my bank transfer information and a “transaction failed” status. It seems the brokerage had a fee that had to be paid when my friend opened her account but that he had waved as a favor to her. Now the brokerage was enforcing their policy so that money had to be paid. Fourth red flag.
At that point I was certain it was a fraud so I pressed him to give me his physical address. I said I had a friend who could stop by and help me with the transaction. He got nervous and insisted that as an account manager he didn’t have the time to receive visitors. And that was the fifth and final red flag for me.
Now I had never thought I would fall for a scam. Going into this situation I knew the whole thing was fishy, but my greed made me turn a blind eye on those red flags. I strongly recommend that you always keep a clear head when dealing with any investment opportunity online, check references and when in doubt just walk away.
I hope my experience helps you to avoid falling victim to these scammers.