Third Time Is Not a Charm
The rollercoaster of emotions, shattered hopes and dreams, the extent of emotional and psychological manipulation – all of these are hard to put into words when I am still trying to process everything that has happened to me. I am 37, a retail trader and someone that has never thought twice, not even once, about online investment scams, but unfortunately, this is my story of how I was manipulated by three different scammers, on three different fake investment platforms at the same time.
#1 WF from Germany
On June 23, 2021, I received a random Instagram message from WF, who complimented my photos and commented on how cute my daughter is. WF introduced himself as a 33-year-old man from Hangzhou, China currently living in Germany and working in the fitness equipment industry. Two days later, the conversation migrated to WhatsApp.
We talked about everything - cooking, our careers, fitness - he showed sympathy for me, my situation of currently going through a divorce and definitely used it to his advantage. He showed so much concern for my daughter, always asked if I had eaten, and asked if I was taking care of myself. Within such a short amount of time, I started to see him as such a good and reliable friend. There were the occasional mentions of analyzing financial trends in his spare time, followed by a photo of a calculation filled notepad. I didn’t think too much of it.
WF introduced me to BOC International Foreign Exchange on June 26th. With tips from his uncle, his own analysis and calculations, WF was able to make a profit of 20-30% after each trade on BOC. On July 4th, I made my first deposit of 500 USDT. I made a profit and was able to withdraw the principal and earnings, although I have now come to know that the profits and numbers were all fabricated.
I was nervous, but I trusted him. I truly believed he had my and my daughter’s best interests at heart. I deposited 7532 USDT and made a profit. “This was it,” I thought, “if I keep doing this, I can provide for my daughter and give her a blissful and comfortable life”.
On July 9th,
Customer Service advertised a membership promotion. If you recharge 100,000 USDT, you get 118,000 USDT. If you recharge 300,000 USDT, you get 357,000 USDT, etc. It was the perfect trap. Customer Service later informed me that the 100,000 offer was no longer available, but the 300,000 offer was still open. Now it was a trap that even surpassed perfection.
$300,000 was not within my means. Over the course of seven weeks, I rounded up whatever I could and WF helped me with the rest, which was 194,000 USDT. After receiving the bonus USDT from the promotion, I still had to deposit more in order to trade. After the trade, I attempted to withdraw my funds. Customer Service advised that I had to upgrade to a Premium Membership Plan due to the large amount. I questioned WF about this, in which he claimed he previously received a free upgrade, as his balance was exceptionally high. I obediently deposited yet another 10,000 USDT to upgrade my membership. Customer Service then threw another curveball; because a third party (WF) deposited 194,000 USDT into my account, I had to pay an additional 10%, as it was deemed an “illegal operation”. This happened on August 27th.
I started to get suspicious. It started to feel like a scam, but WF assured me it was not. He had used all of his available liquidity to help me, all of his other funds were invested in his fitness equipment, he could not help me any further. I asked Customer Service if there would be any more fees after I pay the 10%. They said no.
I just had to come up with $19,400 and then it would be all over. I would finally be able to withdraw the entire balance and I could pay back WF.
I lost USD$160,000 to WF and BOC.
#2 Tianci from Malaysia
On July 18th, Tianci messaged me on Instagram, however I did not reply until July 28th. His reason for contacting me was exactly the same as WF’s. Tianci claimed he was from Fujian, China and currently working in Malaysia.
The next day, our conversation transitioned to WhatsApp. We often spoke on the phone for several hours, talking about what we were doing, what we were eating, what foods we were craving, where we would like to travel to after the pandemic and so much more - just what felt like a genuine friendship. If he ever missed my call, he would always call me back -- he was just always there.
My family lives in Malaysia and so when my mother had an operation, Tianci was adamant in getting in touch with her – wanting to offer words of support and recommend Chinese remedies that could speed up her recovery. I thought this was a crazy notion, but he disagreed - he claimed “there is nothing wrong with your mother hearing from her future son-in-law”.
On August 4th, Tianci wanted to buy a present for my daughter. He introduced me to the platform ETF – I just had to transfer USD$735 to ETF’s bank account, trade, withdraw the funds back to my personal bank account and use the profit to buy the gift. I made a profit of USD$133 and was able to successfully transfer the principal and earnings back to my bank account. I dropped my guard. At this point, I only had one thing on my mind: I had to find more funds to deposit into BOC. I proceeded to tell Tianci all about my experience with WF.
On August 15th, Tianci formulated a plan – deposit funds into ETF and trade, then use the earnings to reinvest into BOC. After multiple attempts to withdraw, paying a violation fee, authentication fee, personal income tax, and Tianci helping me when I fell short while simultaneously pressuring me to sell my car – it stopped on August 30th when Customer Service requested a 50,000 USDT hacking fee.
After immense financial pressure and becoming so emotionally drained, I looked further into WF and Tianci’s platforms, reverse image searched them and finally realised I had been scammed all along. I did not confront either of them.
I lost USD $106,360 to Tianci and ETF.
#3 Jack from Australia
On 7th August, I received an Instagram message from Jack – a 36-year-old half Singaporean, half Chinese now living in Sydney, working in the wine trade. Jack’s brother passed away during a firefighting mission. He also claimed to be a divorcee because his wife had an affair.
I never viewed WF or Tianci in a romantic light, but without a doubt, my “relationship” with Jack was the most intense and unfortunately, I fell for him very quickly. I thought we lived in the same country, so I really believed there was going to be a “Jack and I”.
On the first day of conversing, Jack already told me that he and his uncle invested in gold. I told him about BOC and ETF – at this time, I was still trusting WF and Tianci. Jack advised that the platforms were scams and strongly suggested me to withdraw my funds. He told me to check out MT5, which he insisted was legitimate and regulated, and he also told me to download Ruilong – the latter of which is a scam platform. I won’t go too much into the numbers of the scam, because I’m sure you know how it goes. Basically, on August 13th, after my first few trades, I was able to withdraw 11,475 USDT. This was the most I had ever been able to withdraw, so I continued to trust Jack. I was already blinded; my lack of judgment was because of my extreme desperation to take out my funds from BOC and to pay back the people I had borrowed money from.
In between all the investing talk, what I thought was a relationship blossomed. Jack was extremely attentive: he gave my daughter a Chinese name, wanted to help me raise her, and we even talked about future kids and what we would name them. We made plans for what would happen after the lockdown in Sydney. We explored the idea of me moving to Sydney or him selling his house and moving to my city. He even encouraged me to purchase a block of land so we can start our new life together soon.
On August 30th, I realised I was scammed by WF and Tianci. At this point, I had become tangled in another membership offer with Jack’s platform and desperately needed funds.
On September 2nd, I didn’t know what to think anymore. I decided to book a flight to Sydney and see once and for all if Jack was real. I guess he didn’t think I would be this bold, but he assured me that I could stay with him, so he provided his address for me to write down on the permit to enter Sydney. He told me to pack lightly, so I did – he was going to prepare everything for me. We were going to meet for the first time, fly back home to reunite with my daughter and the three of us would embark on our first chapter together.
On the night of September 3rd, I flew to Sydney. Jack asked for photos of the airport and of me on the plane because he missed travelling, but it was probably just a test to determine if I was really going to see him. There were 1,001 things he could’ve said to try to prevent me from boarding the plane…. but he didn’t. I arrived at the address he provided. The long-time residents and owners of the house said they had no idea who Jack was. I am not even sure how I felt this point, but I now knew he was also a scammer.
I called Jack and questioned why he gave me the wrong address. He said he was pulled over by the police for drunk driving, and his car was taken from him so he could not pick me up. After me being super dramatic and fake crying about how I literally had no more money and was now stranded, Jack liaised with the Customer Service of Ruilong behind the scenes and ultimately, Customer Service allowed me to withdraw 500 USDT.
Photos that Jack sent attempting to prove he was getting pulled over by the police for drink driving
I lost USD$22,130 to Jack and Ruilong.
Receiving the 500 USDT made me think that there was possibility that if I told all three scammers that I was stranded, had no money and was basically homeless, they would have the tiniest glimpse of a conscience and transfer me some funds for survival. This required planning, finding the right photos, and timing my desperate pleas.
WF could not care less. Tianci and Jack both transferred 2000 USDT to my Binance wallet, but also kept suggesting that I sell my car after I received the funds. I guess this was their way of showing me that I could still trust them. This brought my total loss to USD$284,490.
I still can’t fathom how and why such greedy and disgusting excuses of human beings could continuously deceive and take advantage of someone that had already lost so much, so I can’t say I’m thankful that the scammers returned some of my money… it was the least they could do.
The victories were small, but I needed this glimmer of light.