Jersey Resident Loses Over $1.5 Million in Bitcoin Scam

A cryptocurrency investor has reportedly lost his life-savings after falling for a scam involving Bitcoin (BTC), the world’s most dominant cryptocurrency. The victim, who’s a resident of Jersey, an autonomous region and monarchy affiliated with (but not part of) the UK, was targeted by scammers who allegedly stole £1.2 million (appr. $1.58 million) from him.

Scammers Target Victim Over 18-Month Period

This, according to local news outlet the Jersey Evening Post, which noted that the fraudsters targeted the Jersey resident over an 18-month period. During this period, the victim was reportedly told he would receive as much as a 15x return on his initial investment.

As detailed by local news sources, the victim was first approached by the scammers when he visited a fraudulent Bitcoin-related website (created by the criminals). The unsuspecting investor lost all of his savings as he was reportedly misled into believing that he would earn large returns on his investments.

“Unlikely” Funds Will Be Recovered

After the Jersey resident handed over £1.2 million to the criminals, he never received the returns he was promised. According to the UK’s National Crime Agency, it is now highly unlikely the victim will be able to recover the funds he lost. Moreover, the gang responsible for the financial crime had claimed to be based in Norway.

However, authorities investigating the matter said they were able to track various transactions the offenders conducted between bank accounts in several different countries. In order to warn the residents of the region, the Jersey Fraud Prevention Forum has recommended they remain “extra vigilant.”

“Well-Known UK Company Names Used” To Mislead Victim

Other details from the incident report revealed the scammers contacted the victim through email and telephone, right after the Jersey resident visited their crypto-related website. A representative at the Jersey Financial Services Commission confirmed:

The victim was engaged for over an 18-month period and they were able to build trust prior to getting the victim to send the greater amounts.

The representative added: 

[The victim was] made to believe that the returns would be 15 times the investment amount and the criminals were using well-known UK company names to convince them. The requests for further funds were allegedly in relation to taxes and fees which were imposed in the foreign jurisdictions where the original monies were sent.

Bitrue Hacked: $4.5 Million in XRP and ADA Stolen, User Funds Will Be Replaced

At around 17:00 UTC on June 26 or 01:00 on June 27 in Singapore, where digital asset exchange Bitrue is based, a security breach occurred, which resulted in a loss of $4.5 million in crypto from the exchange's hot wallets.

Bitrue, which was founded in 2018, has quickly become a favorite with members of the XRP community because of the high degree of enthusiasm, support, and transparency shown by its management towards XRP. One interesting fact about Bitrue is that it supported XRP as a base currency on the day that its trading platform was launched (19 July 2018). 

At press time (07:57 UTC on June 27), visitors to the Bitrue website are greeted with this message:

Bitrue Hack Announcement.png

Around 02:16 UTC on June 27, Bitrue issued an official statement (via a series of tweets) that explained what exactly had happened, how this impacted its users, and what it was going to do next:

  • At approximately 17:00 UTC on June 26, a hacker or group of hackers "exploited a vulnerability" in the exchange's "Risk Control team's 2nd review process" to "access the personal funds of about 90 Bitrue users."
  • The hackers "used what they learned from this breach" to steal around $4.5 million in crypto—more specifically 9.3 million XRP and 2.5 million Cardano (ADA)—from the exchange's hot wallets and moved these coins to various other exchanges.
  • Shortly after the security breach, this attack was detected and trading, withdrawals, and deposits were all suspended on Bitrue, and the three exchanges where the stolen funds were moved to—Huobi Global, Bittrex, and ChangeNOW—were alerted and asked to freeze "the affected funds and accounts." Bitrue has also "contacted the relevant authorities in Singapore to assist us in tracking down the culprit and retrieving the stolen funds."
  • Because initially it was not quite clear what exactly had happened, the message shown above (about "system maintenance") was posted on the Bitrue website... Bitrue wishes to apologize for "this miscommunication" with its users.
  • Bitrue wants to reassure its users that all "heir personal funds are insured, and anybody affected by this breach will have their funds replaced by us as soon as possible."
  • Bitrue is currently "conducting an emergency inspection of the exchange and hope to be live again as soon as possible with log in & trading functionality." As for withdrawals, they will be "offline for a slightly longer period" while the investigation continues.
  • The flow of stolen XRP can be tracked via the XRP Ledger tool at Bithomp: https://bithomp.com/explorer/rwSvajJ4ZNhjgzcfaJWkEuLh4VURTFHuka

In communication with CryptoGlobe, Bitrue's support team confirmed that:

  • all user funds are "insured up to a maximum value of 1 million USD per user"; and
  • "trading should be back up within a few hours, and at that time users who were affected will already have their lost funds back in their accounts"

A few hours ago, Bitrue CEO Curis Wang posted this message on Twitter:

UPDATE (08:15 on June 27): Bitrue has just released a statement to media outlets to provide further details about this incident:

  • Of the $4.5 million in stolen crypto, 50% was "moved to private wallets," and the other 50% was moved to five crypto exchanges: Huobi, Bittrex, ChangeNOW, Exmo.me, and Coinswitch.co. The first three have frozen the stolen funds that were moved there (worth around $1.35 million). 
  • "This frozen amount should be recoverable by Bitrue in the future after working with the authorities and exchanges."
  • "After recovering the frozen assets, the net loss will be $3.15 million USD." This total "includes $1.89 million USD lost from individual user accounts, and $1.26 million USD lost from Bitrue’s own hot wallet."
  • "The funds lost by user accounts were insured and will be replaced by Bitrue as soon as the exchange resumes service."
  • "Bitrue plans to re-enable log in and trading services by midnight (Singapore time) June 27, i.e. by 16:00 UTC on June 27.
  • "Withdrawals from the exchange will not be possible until the Bitrue team is confident that any security vulnerabilities have been addressed."
  • "Bitrue will continue the planned launch of the trading of their platform token, Bitrue Coin (BTR), on Sunday 30 June 2019."
  • "Bitrue will analyze their automated systems and manual processes to identify any potential vulnerabilities and patch them before they can be exploited."

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