Big money can only be stolen and earned. Cash App Scams Are On The Rise
It's even worse when you realise there's little chance of getting it back. This is the story of how I got my fingers burned in the murky of world of cryptocurrency investment. Be warned.
Faking it — scammers’ tricks to steal your heart and money
After a decade as a tech journalist, I liked to describe myself as a "lunchtime-adopter", somebody who acted faster than many, but would never be as smart as the early adopters. So it was with cryptocurrencies.
I had heard about Bitcoin, but it was one of those technologies where I nodded my head sagely whenever I was in the same room with those talking about it. As for investing or speculating, I had absolutely no intention of doing so. So in the middle ofI made some investments, figuring that it was a long-term plan and might even become a nest egg for a pension.
But doing so was utterly terrifying.
Protecting you against fraud
Even after a lot of tutorials from very patient friends, I pulled out three times from completing my initial transaction.
One wrong press of the key and I thought I'd lose my money. How prophetic that turned out to be. There seemed to be two options: to store my crypto on an exchange, or in an encrypted digital storage wallet.
UK firm linked to Bitcoin billions theft I was given two keys, one private and one public, both of 40 random numbers and letters.
If I wanted to transfer money to my wallet, I used the public key; to access my wallet I used my private key.
I was told to write down my private key and store it securely with other financial documents.
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I was never to reveal it to anyone, or lose it. So I printed it out, but also made the fateful decision to store it in my Gmail drafts, so I could copy and paste it when I needed to make a transaction rather than laboriously typing it out each time.
I deleted my internet history after every check of my wallet for extra security.
Updated Jul 7, What is Money Laundering? Money laundering is the illegal process of making large amounts of money generated by a criminal activity, such as drug trafficking or terrorist funding, appear to have come from a legitimate source. The money from the criminal activity is considered dirty, and the process "launders" it to make it look clean. Money laundering is a serious financial crime that is employed by white collar and street-level criminals alike. Criminals use a wide variety of money laundering techniques to make illegally obtained funds appear clean.
Then that decent pile of money disappeared. I hadn't used my private key to access my account for some time and was getting the jitters when the price of all cryptocurrencies began to fall in Maybe it was time to take some out.
It had been moved to another private key address and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. There seemed to be no-one to complain to.
After contacting people in my extensive crypto network, I found out that my Ether money had been taken to the Binance cryptocurrency exchange and, according to Binance, moved again within 60 minutes.
Trying to get information from Binance was a Kafkaesque nightmare - just an automated message saying it would respond within 72 hours when 72 seconds would have been more useful. But six months passed with no news on my stolen investments, so I went on the offensive and contacted US bounty-hunters CipherBlade who work with the FBI in Philadelphia to pinpoint thieves and track them down - in exchange for a percentage of the bounty.
They discovered that my money had been deposited by the thief or thieves in a "consolidation wallet" then big money can only be stolen and earned up in to chunks and sent to four different deposit addresses on the Binance exchange. The police would need to contact Binance, they said, to find out who owned these accounts, using email and IP addresses and any other personal details the thieves may have given.
The following morning I was contacted by Sussex's cybercrime unit, my local force, and within a week they had received useful information from Binance. The unit tracked IP addresses to a telecoms company in the Netherlands, but there weren't any personal identification details to be had - perhaps unsurprisingly.