Cryptocurrency scam victim loses $80K in life savings

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A victim of an $80,000 cryptocurrency scam sat with WREG to share his story and warn others.

Ricky Smith said he does not want anyone else to go through what he’s experiencing.

“People be careful, please,” he said. “I’m in a terrible situation now because I have no other assets at this point. That was life savings.”

The 58-year-old said he is out $80,000 after he started investing in cryptocurrency. It began back in May when he communicated with someone on Facebook. He also communicated with someone on WhatsApp where a woman connected him to the crypto investment.

Smith initially thought it looked legit, but he now believes he was led to a bogus site.


“So I decided to try it,” he said. “I said, ‘Okay I’ll try it just to test the water’ and I’ll put $500 in there at first and see what happens, you know? And when I put $500 in there, there was a gain, and I was able to get it out. But the more I kept putting in and I was gaining, I didn’t really just take it right back out.”

He was encouraged to keep the account growing and put more and more money in the account.

“And before you know it, when I tried to take it down, they said, ‘hold up, you have to pay taxes on this money,” Smith said.

Even after paying several tens of thousands, he was still told he needed to pay $48,000 to be a VIP member.

“I knew I was got at that point,” Smith said.

Daniel Irwin with the Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South said crypto scams are often related to investments. He said someone promising you a big return should be a red flag.

“Crypto scams are quickly becoming one of the biggest scams we see,” Irwin said. “There’s nothing low risk about investments in general, especially cryptocurrency investments.”

Smith has now started the long process to try and get some of his money back.

“Scamming is really real out here, and I am one of the prime examples of why I want to get this message out so no on else can be hurt or get mistreated in this way,” he said.

Smith has filed a police report and contacted federal agencies.

Click here to read cryptocurrency tips to consider before making an investment.