Retiree Gary Edmunds, 71, invested a large portion of his life savings into what appeared to be a legitimate Bitcoin scheme. He didn’t realize that the people behind it weren’t bankers but scammers, and he wired over £20,000 to them.
Gary cares for his partner Brenda who has Alzheimer’s. He wanted to buy them a motor home so he could have more time with her, with her vehicle serving as a space where he could take care of her and spend a vacation.
Gary did some research on the investment market and became part of an online community for car enthusiasts. It was here that a man sent him a message, recommending some investment platforms, claiming that he had made large sums of money.
Intrigued by the man’s returns, Gary did his due diligence and verified the business address and registration numbers of the company the man sent. He said that he seemed “completely legit”.
Gary converted the British pound into Bitcoin and then electronically transferred the Bitcoin to the company.
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“The figures rolled very well, they looked beautiful,” he said.
Gary’s Bitcoin investment seemed to be increasing in value and looked legitimate.
He had initially invested around £13,000, and by the end of the year he was told it had risen to around £60,000.
He withdrew some money, around £1,000, and it arrived in his account 24 hours later.
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“I wasn’t worried at all,” he said.
Since he felt there was no reason to worry, he let the rest of his money continue to grow with the business.
By his birthday the following year, the investment was claimed to have risen to almost £100,000, which Gary wanted to withdraw. However, to collect the full amount, the company said there was a fee.
Gary was told he had to pay a 20 per cent commission, meaning he needed to pay around £20,000 to withdraw his money.
Gary remembered thinking, “What the hell is going on? It’s been three weeks.”
“15 business days had passed and I hadn’t seen anything and the alarms went off, so I contacted Action Fraud.
“It seems more likely that he can’t get access to retrieve any of it.
“It’s a lot of money and unfortunately now I have debts for the next five years.
“The little spark that I was waiting for to brighten up my life and make things a little easier, to have a vacation again, has really been completely ripped out of me.
“What the next five years will look like, I just don’t know.”
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