Over the last few days I’ve been contacted by 2 UK residents who both suspected they were being scammed… Both had been contacted by a company who informed them that they each had some Bitcoin which they’d bought several years ago & probably forgotten about, but this Bitcoin was now worth quite a lot of money. The company had traced the ownership of the Bitcoin back to them and now wanted to return it. If you’re reading this and it sounds familiar, then you too have been targeted by this scam.
Attention: There never was any Bitcoin you’d bought and forgotten about. You are being scammed. The scammers are using the value of the Bitcoin to lure you into a trap.
Take a look at the our main Scams page that describes some of the scams in operation.
How do the scammers get your email address and contact details ?
There have been several hacks of crypto exchanges and other crypto related sites in recent years. In 2020 Ledger, the makers of the popular Nano hardware wallet had approximately 272,000 customer records stolen that contained email addresses and other sensitive information (more here: https://www.cryptovantage.com/news/is-ledger-still-safe-everything-we-learned-from-last-years-hack/). This information is easily available on the dark and not-so-dark web.
How the scam works
You’ll either receive an email or a phone call. It’ll be from someone you’ve never heard of before. They’ll tell you that they’re contacting you because
- They’ve discovered you have some Bitcoin you purchased several years ago that they’ve managed to trace back to you.
- The Bitcoin transaction they are telling you about doesn’t exist and it never did. They are just fishing to see if they can get you to bite.
- They’ll tell you they are from a legitimate company and will send you an email which looks like it’s from the legitimate company
- It’s not a legitimate email – it’s a fake. See some example scam emails here: https://recovermycryptowallet.com/typical-crypto-scam/
- They’ll tell you that your Bitcoin is ‘dormant’ or it has been ‘frozen’ or ‘locked’ (or similar), and in order to release the Bitcoin you need to pay an unlocking fee of usually 1% of the value of the locked Bitcoin
- Bitcoin can not be locked or frozen or made dormant, and they are banking on you not knowing this. Any money you pay will never be seen again.
- They’ll provide you with a legitimate looking screenshot showing your balance – see below.
- This is a complete fake disguised to look like a real exchange balance that the scammers have constructed to try and get you to believe their story. In this example it looks like you amazingly have £55,196.84 that you didn’t realise you had. This is an elaborate hoax designed to scam you out of your money.
See some example scam emails here: What a typical Bitcoin scam looks like