For the last couple of years, we’ve heard about hundreds and hundreds maybe thousands of consumers who have been defrauded out of funds from some online scam usually having to do with a Ponzi scheme, cryptocurrency, or Bitcoin. A lot of these were just scammers that said look if you send us money we’ll buy Bitcoin in and raise up your account value. But what we’ve seen in the last couple of months is some of the underlying platforms, the large wallets, and the trading accounts were at their core, a scam.
Crypto Ponzi schemes are starting to unwind and there are some big names, not just an individual scammer that’s out there soliciting you on social media or spamming you on email or on Facebook or Instagram. They’re some of the large-scale platforms. It doesn’t matter what the names are. They are turning out to be nothing but big vaporware. A Ponzi scheme. Even if you were a legitimate investor, the money is all gone. In one of these schemes, the founders disappeared for three-four weeks and filed for bankruptcy. The question is what do you do if you have found that one of your large-scale investments in cryptocurrency has gone away?
Step 1: Stop sending money
Step 2: Block off access to your information
Step 3: Make your report
Step 4: Identify the scammer
Step 5: Search for their assets
Step 6: Seize their assets
The first thing you want to do is make sure you don’t send them anything else. The next thing you want to do is make sure that they don’t have any access to your money, your personal information, or your financial information. Think about what you sent them by email, and what documents you’ve uploaded. You may want to change your credit cards. You may want to get a new driver’s license depending on what information they have.
Beyond that, now you want to file some notices with law enforcement or your local police department. However, they may not take the case and they may not take the report because they consider it not in their jurisdiction. At least try, if you can, at least get a police report. Even if they take the report, your local police, county sheriff, or state police are likely not going to drop everything and investigate your case. But at least you want to get a filed. The next thing you want to do is report it to the FBI online scam department called IC3 and get that reported there.
The last thing is to decide what you’re going to do with communications. You don’t want to send them any more information but you may not want to cut off communications and burn the bridge. It may be helpful later to keep that line of communication open for a couple of reasons. Then what you want to do is investigate who are the actual parties behind the scam or behind the platform? Most of the time they’re going to give a fake name or they may not have their principals listed on their website so you want to get to the bottom of it who are the actual people involved with this. You can do that yourself and we can investigate it once you find out the parties.
The next thing you want to do is do an asset search. Find out where are their assets because their assets are your assets. Your money is now in their hands. So you want to find out where are their assets, bank accounts, real estate, vehicles, corporate assets, international assets, intellectual property, and all the different asset classes you want to search to get to the bottom of where the money went.
Once you have that itemized and locked in, your third step is you’re going to have to take some type of legal action to recover your assets. Remember we’re not attorneys so we’re not giving you legal advice, but depending on your jurisdiction, you may have to get a writ of garnishment of judgment or some other process from the court. Even if you have their bank account, the bank account number, the name of the bank, the routing number and you know the account has $2,452,000.12, you can’t go to the bank and say give me that money. The bank’s not in a position to determine whether or not it was a scam. They can’t take your word for it, that these people took your money. They can’t take anybody’s word for it except for one person in the world. That’s a judge.
A judge can sign an order that says, Give this person their money or give that company back their money. If a judge says it, now the bank has to do it. Just because you have proof, you have emails, you have account statements, you have phone calls, and you have this big fat bank account sitting out there you can’t just walk into the bank and say Hey give me that money, that’s mine. The bank is not going to take your word for it and neither should they because if they would, somebody could go into your bank and say give me your money. Right? You want a little more protection on that. It’s easy enough to do. You can go to court to present your evidence, the judge looks at it and says this is fair enough and get a judgment. But you can’t do that unless you know who you’re getting a judgment against, you have to have the actual parties and you can’t recover it unless you tell the court, these are the assets I want to claim. This is the real estate I want to put a lien on. This is the bank account I want to seize. These are the vehicles I want to repossess. you have to have that information.
So if you become a victim or if you’re finding that your accounts are not accessible, Bitcoin or otherwise, those are the steps you want to take. Again you can reach our website and we have some consultations available if you want to talk about it further. Make sure you take those first four steps: Stop sending money, block off access, make your report, and then start searching. And you’ll be on your way.
Wanted: The Truth
Active Intel Investigations is here to help you with every aspect of your investigation, from conducting the investigation to preparing evidence to provide it in court.
Get started with your investigation, browse our video library for investigative resources, or schedule a no-obligation consultation with a licensed private investigator to discuss the specifics of your case.