A crypto scam targeting victims in Scotland has defrauded a cancer patient out of his retirement funds and drained the pension pot of a lorry driver, after convincing 30 people to invest in a fake cryptocurrency trading software.
As reported by the Daily Record, both 66-year-old Tom Roberts and 57-year-old Alan Gow have been scammed by Safe Holdings, a purported trading firm offering software that analyzes crypto markets.
The pair lost £10,000 and £3,500 respectively after being convinced to let the firm trade on crypto markets for them. They’re part of a group of 30 investors who claim to have been scammed.
A man using the name Chris O’Brien reportedly runs the crypto scheme. It’s said he relies on word of mouth via WhatsApp to recruit new investors, and prior investors make a profit as long as they keep recruiting.
‘O’Brien’ asks users to create two accounts, one on his site and one with Starling Bank. Users then transfer funds to the cryptocurrency account where Safe Holdings claims to trade with it. The site shows climbing profits in an interface that makes the victims feel in control.
Cancer diagnosis in the middle of crypto scam
A friend of Roberts claimed to make £300 a week through Safe Holdings. He referred Roberts to Safe Holdings, where he was then convinced to invest £16,000 over four months.
Roberts tried to withdraw his money but he could only recover £6,000 before O’Brien stopped answering his messages. His Safe Holdings account supposedly made £99,000.
“I was diagnosed with cancer during all of this and I even told Chris I was dying but it didn’t make any difference. I was just ignored,” he told the Daily Record.
“It has been hard, it is all the money I had left and now it is gone. My wife has Huntington’s disease and we wanted to go on the holiday of a lifetime so that money would have done a great deal for us.”
Lorry driver Alan Gow was also persuaded to invest and deposited a total of £12,000 from his pension fund over the course of six months. Gow was able to withdraw £8,500 but only after hounding Chris to pay him back. His account showed he had supposedly made £77,022.
“I managed to get £8,500 back and now I’m being ignored. I am absolutely fuming about it. I want to warn other people against investing as it is a scam. Everything they tell you is a lie.”
Reviews of Safe Holdings paint a bleak picture as users tell stories of “an elaborate scam,” and advise others to “not give your money to these people.”
The firm isn’t registered with the FCA (the UK’s financial watchdog) and are likely listed in the Virgin Isles. Scottish police, therefore, lack the jurisdiction and the authority to investigate the firm. Safe Holdings also operates in Germany, Canada, and Australia.