Recently I noticed an increase in the number of Bitcoin scammers that have been targeting me on Facebook and Instagram. A lot of my friends and colleagues have also reached out in recent weeks to ask me about the authenticity of certain investment opportunities presented to them by strangers online. Most of these people target you on Facebook, a number of them even do deep-dive research on you. So how do you tell the difference between a real opportunity and a scam targeting you?
An example of a Facebook scam targeting me
Sometime in mid-February, I received a friend request on Facebook from someone named Khetty Jobe aka Emily (sic) amelia. I generally decline friend requests from strangers but this person and I had about 40 mutual friends with me, they had one of those common faces that make you vaguely familiar and where in their late thirties or early forties based on the photographs on their profile.
I agonised over whether to accept or decline for a moment but I am always forgetting cousins and other relatives. The last thing I wanted to go through was a public scolding at the next family or funeral wedding. Hey Garie why did you not respond to my friend request on Facebook? Why would you ignore your own aunt? It has happened before so I just accepted.
In no time at all, I received a couple of messages from this person. And it turned into a back and forth. In a series of cunning messages meant to ingratiate herself (that’s even if she is a she) and pry information about myself she somehow pivoted the conversation to Bitcoin investments.
Finally, she showed me the screen above as proof of how genuine she is. By this time I was having so much fun trolling her, I just let it continue. At the end of it all, she made her pitch.
This is basically how it works 1. You will have to set up your trading account under the company platform 2. You will fund your company account with your investment capital 3. Once the whole process is done and account is set for trading you’ve full access to your trading account and you can see everything yourself as you trade with Mr BrownThe final pitch.
I politely declined. I had no interest in investing with her company. I was barely making enough due to the pandemic. Maybe later. Where I come from maybe later simply means never.
Ever since this I have been approached by as many as ten such scammers. Instagram is another place where they like to hunt. One moment some guy follows you and boom they hit your inbox with a friendly message. Follow the trail and entertain them and they will start talking Bitcoin.
How to protect yourself
It doesn’t help that when Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are not being vilified by government officials with an agenda they are being peddled as an easy way to get rich. A lot of cryptos have seen a surge in prices over the past two years even when everything else has gone to hell. Not even Warren Buffet can match Bitcoin and Dogcoine’s returns.
A lot of people feel like they are missing out on an opportunity and therefore are susceptible to this kind of scams. So how do you protect yourself from falling for a scam?
- Do not entertain investment pitches from strangers you met online. Bitcoin transactions are irreversible and there is no way to make the person who stole your money return it unless you know their real name and location and even then it will be hard. You can bet that person is not named Khetty Jobe
- If it’s too good to be true then it’s too good to be true. Sure Bitcoin does have swings and lows but you will not double your money overnight. That’s just not how it works.
- Do your own research, do not just listen to what a trader is telling you. It’s quite easy to fake WhatsApp messages and bank statements.
- Never ever give someone access to your cryptocurrency wallet as this scam suggests.
- If you hear someone telling you, you need to sign up six or this number of people to really see the benefits of an investment. Run in the other direction. Yes, this includes viral marketing outfits. They are legal scams.
- Be wary of opportunities pitched by people with names that sound made up. Usually, these scammers settle for African sounding names of indeterminate origin possibly because they are not African. The same goes for the English names they choose. Trading with Mr Brown like seriously.
What happens if you “invest”
Several people have actually fallen for the trap. None of these people has ever received the promised returns. The scammers simply take your money and block you. There is no investment going on- it’s all fiction. A couple of people who have lost money have actually turned into crusaders who go around in groups posting about their experiences with the hope that they prevent these scammers from duping more people.
And yes, one of the outed scammers is Khetty Jobe.