The newborn and scarcely regulated crypto industry is awash with exploits, hacks, and digital pump-and-dump schemes – some of them netting upwards of hundreds of millions of dollars in a matter of seconds, from a computer someplace, the identity of the perpetrator generally hid behind a bogus online identity.
So it would appear nearly out-of-date or pulled straight from a Hollywood script that a squad of smooth-acting fraudsters would spend weeks or months courting blockchain-project administrators, unspooling a silly and intricate investment narrative, then heed through with in-person, face-to-face meetings at a restaurant – only to eventually decamp with cryptocurrencies in the single-digit-millions of dollars and never be seen or heard from again.
Nevertheless, based on interviews with victims and authorities, this exact scenario has played out numerous times in current months in cities across Europe, including Rome, Barcelona, Amsterdam, and Brussels.
As per an officer, who asked not to be named given the steady nature of the investigation, police are classifying this wave of crypto scams as “rip deals” – tempting-sounding offers where victims are promised large amounts of money but eventually end up with their own pockets drained.
The most recognized, and public, target to date is Webaverse co-founder Ahad Shams. Earlier this month he shared a statement over Twitter that he had been a prey of a $4 million crypto hack after meeting in a hotel lobby in Rome with crooks posing as investors.
Lately, another victim, Chris Hunter, the CEO of Coin Publishers, a firm that concentrates on publications and data for crypto saving and borrowing products, shared his account of a similar scam setup he experienced in Barcelona, Spain.
None of the preys are sure how the crooks were able to swipe their funds from their wallets without having any kind of interactions on their devices; some suspect there might be hidden cameras in the eatery, or perhaps hypnosis was involved.