"The impostors lured me to use my retirement savings to buy bitcoin and they stole them from me," reads the complaint filed by an Asheville, North Carolina resident, who lost more than $ 500.000 in BTC a year. last.
Now, the state attorney general's office, which is part of the United States Department of Justice, is ordering the money back to the victim. According to a statement released by the agency on March 15, the unprecedented decision comes after the money was seized from criminals.
Assets confiscated and returned
The person who has been scammed is an elder whose identity has not been specified. The man was deceived through a phishing technique known as vishing, a type of fraud carried out through phone calls.
During the phone call, the scammer tricks the victim into believing that he is a government agent and that his personal information was used to facilitate illegal operations, such as drug trafficking and money laundering.
Once the elderly man was persuaded, he was instructed to deposit his money in an alleged "government account" on the Coinbase exchange. On August 31, 2021, 12,16 bitcoins worth approximately $ 574.766 (here the quotation in real time) were transferred to an address controlled by criminals.
Coinbase and the FBI quickly identified the transfer as a potential financial fraud. "After a successful investigation and civil confiscation process, the seized cryptocurrency was confiscated by the US authorities and will be returned to the victim," they add.
Accelerated case because it involved an elderly person
The curious thing in this case is that the US Attorney, Dena J. King, has apparently expressed concern about the effects of the prosecution and decided to expedite the investigation. This is not only because the report was made on time, but also because the victim was an elderly person.
The special attention offered comes from the "Elder Justice" initiative of the US Attorney's Office for the Western District of North Carolina. He was ordered to return the money to the victim in exchange for his cooperation.
The assistance of the FBI and Coinbase, the court said, was much appreciated. King also noted that victims of scams rarely turn out well after their experiences:
“Government imposter scams are common, and the consequences for victims can be financially and emotionally devastating. Fortunately, this fraud was quickly discovered and the victim will receive a refund as a result. Unfortunately, the vast majority of these cases do not end in the same way ”. - said Dena J. King.
It is precisely the refund that has attracted most of the attention, because it is unusual. It is common in scam cases that money seized by the authorities is not returned to victims if the fraud is not discovered in time.