A man in Pennsylvania swindled friends and acquaintances out of $70,000 in a Bitcoin scam featuring fake investments.
The massive Bitcoin bull run in late 2017 had a number of consequences. One was that a lot of people saw their crypto investment balloon in value to almost astronomical proportions. Another result was that a lot of people decided to jump onto the virtual currency bandwagon, which was partly fueled by FOMO (fear of missing out). One man in Pennsylvania decided to take advantage of this situation and fleeced people looking to invest in Bitcoin out of $70,000.
Successful Bitcoin Scam
The perpetrator in question is 22-year-old Randall Joseph Smail from Penn Township, Pennsylvania. Police say that he started swindling friends and acquaintances out of a lot of cash in late 2017 and continued on through early 2018.
The scam was a pretty simple one. Smail told people that he could invest their hard-earned cash for them in BTC and that they would get a nice return. A number of people bit, which is not a surprise as many individuals looking to get into cryptocurrency during the BTC bull run didn’t know how to do so.
A number of people came forward to law enforcement over the Bitcoin scam. A couple told police that Smail talked with them about “investment opportunities he had to offer” in October 2017. The couple decided to give him $7,500 to invest. Smail told the couple eight months later that their investment had grown to a massive $120,000.
If the couple had done any research at all, they would have known that such a claim was utter bull. At the start of October 2017, Bitcoin was trading for just over $4,300. Eight months later, Bitcoin was trading in the $8,000 range, which is a far cry from boosting a $7,500 investment to $120,000.
The couple was not alone in being fleeced. A man gave Smail $21,700 in February 2018 to invest. Smail told the man that his BTC had grown in value up to $40,000 in May. (The price of BTC in May was averaging close to the bottom trading range of the coin back in February.)
Another man gave Smail $5,000 in January 2018 while another forked over $35,000 in late 2017. Over time, the victims were told that their “investments” had grown, but they were eventually unable to contact Smail about getting their money.
Police say Smail fabricated bank accounts to fool his victims, and it appears that he did not invest any of the money given to him at all. Instead, he kept it, such as using $20,000 of the ill-gotten loot on a down payment for a Range Rover costing a cool $102,000.
Smail is being charged with theft, money laundering, and bad checks. He is currently being held on bail of $50,000.
This Bitcoin scam shows the danger of not doing due diligence. One would have realized that Smail was full of BS by just checking the value of Bitcoin and comparing it to when the “investment” took place. The power of the BTC bull run hype, combined with FOMO, convinced a number of people to hand over large sums of cash to someone with no license, business degree, or any official financial investment accreditation. Definitely not a recipe for success.
Have you ever made a foolish cryptocurrency investment? Let us know in the comments below.
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