An Australian couple lost over AU$20,000 (US$14,000) in a bitcoin scam, and were even taunted by the perpetrator over their losses.
According to a report by the ABC, Nick and Josie Yeomans put money into a trading scheme discovered on Facebook that used the web domain Coinexx.org (not to be confused with Coinexx.com) and initially saw good returns from their small investments.
Despite fears that it could be a scam, the positive early results saw them put more and more of their savings into Coinexx.org until they had over AU$20,000 invested. A family member was also persuaded to match their investment.
Ultimately, Nick gave up his job based on the returns they were initially getting, the report says. However, after they ran out of funds to invest, the payments dried up and the purported firm closed access to their funds.
To rub salt into their wounds, the couple later received a message via a WhatApp account that had been used to communicate with Coinexx.org, saying:
“Let me save you the stress, cus you’ve been through a lot already. Coinexx is a scam. Everything and everyone involved are the same. Don’t bother about trying to get back your money. … Just focus on getting money to take care of your family.”
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) told the ABC that the details provided by the Yeomans “have the appearance of a Ponzi scheme,” although the spokesperson added that it had received no other complaints about Coinexx.org.
In April, the ACCC and other government agencies published a report indicating that Australia had seen a surge in reports of scams involving cryptocurrencies in 2018.
In 674 cases, victims reported that AU$6.1 million (US$4.3 million) in cryptocurrency had been used lost to scammers over the year. However, total scam losses including through fiat currencies was far higher, at AU$489 million (US$345 million).