This is the story of how Canadian Benjamin Tyler Perrin, who has a YouTube channel that helps people to learn about Bitcoin, managed to scam the Bitcoin scammer who approached him on Instagram, and donated the proceeds to a non-profit organization that aims to increase the awareness of Bitcoin in Venezuela.
Perrin is the marketing manager for a Canadian Bitcoin company called "Bull Bitcoin", founded in December 2018 and headquartered in Calgary, Alberta. One of its co-founders, Francis Pouliot, who is also the CEO, was the founder and CEO of Satoshi Portal, which developed and operated Bylls, Canada's first and largest Bitcoin payment processor.
Perrin also is the host and producer of "BTC Sessions", a YouTube channel that teaches people about Bitcoin (BTC).
As Perrin describes on his blog, on Tuesday (August 6), he woke up at his home in Calgary to find a message on the Instagram account for "BTC Sessions" from someone with an "exclusive investment offer." More specifically, this offer promised to double any amount of BTC that he invested "in just 24 hours."
Rather than just tell the Bitcoin scammer to get lost and then block them, Perrin saw this opportunity to teach the scammer a lesson:
Rather than tell this individual to go pound sand, I opted enlist a mix of photoshop, strategically finding random transactions on a block explorer, and social engineering to teach a lesson on behalf of a good cause.
So, he decided to engage the scammer by acting as a Bitcoin novice.
As he started chatting with the Bitcoin scammer (who has since then deleted his/her Instagram account), he found out more about how this get-rich-quick scheme works:
During this conversation, Perrin pretended to have lots of money (since he had just cashed out some of his index funds), said that he'd just recently bought some bitcoin (5 BTC) for the first time, and explained that in order to feel safe about investing some of his Bitcoin (1 BTC) with a company he knew nothing about, as a sign of good faith, he wanted the scammer to send him a small amount of bitcoin (worth $50, which he would then send back.
Eventually, after a lot of resistance, the Bitcoin scammer was persuaded to send 0.00418554 BTC to Perrin's BTC wallet, after which Perrin called the scammer an idiot and told him/her to get a job (of course, Perrin used more colorful language), and that this money was going to be donated to Bitcoin Venezuela.
If you can spare a few minutes, you might find the full conversation history with the Bitcoin scammer, which Perrin managed to capture via a series of Instagram screenshots on his blog, highly entertaining.
According to a report by CBC, Sgt. Matt Frederiksen of the Calgary Police, had this advice for anyone thinking of using similar tactics to Perrin to deal with such scams:
We don't encourage anyone to engage, talk with, try and rile up these scammers or fraudsters. You could potentially be creating a target for yourself, where they may become frustrated with you and they already know your phone number or they already know your email. Once you recognize that it's a scam … don't respond.
Instead, Frederiksen said, people should contact the non-emergency number for the local police.