Knoxville man falls victim to cryptocurrency scam

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The cryptocurrency rush has caught the attention of all kinds of investors. However, it has also caught the attention of scammers. With your money invested, you could lose it if you don’t know what you are doing.

The aim of crypto scams most often is to gain your private information, such as security codes, or trick an “unsuspecting” person into sending cryptocurrency to a compromised digital wallet. That is apparently what happened to Rene Rechenbach after he sought help by sending out an SOS on Facebook.

Rechenbach has invested in cryptocurrency, and he admits he is not that skilled with the technology to manage his money. A few weeks ago, he was having trouble with transferring some of his cryptocurrency so he got on Facebook and asked if someone could guide him. Quickly, he got a response.

“I explained I was trying to transfer crypto to another account and it’s been telling me I have no Elon. But I do because I see it right there on my screen.”

Rechenbach said the text messages were with a person identifying herself as Ava Hornback, it’s likely the picture was hacked and Hornback is not her real name.

Rechenbach said he asked why his phrases were not working. He said it was scary because he had his savings in that wallet. The scammer reassured him suggesting it was okay to send a link validating his wallet.

“I knew I was not to supposed to give the phrase out. I didn’t say it, but I didn’t know all about this technology. I clicked on it. It was supposed to go to my DeFi wallet. It didn’t do it. So, it said, I have to put it in manually. I told her, it is not working. She said, it happens sometimes You may have to do it manually. So, I did.”

“That’s what I thought was the right thing to do to put my words in and 30 seconds later, the lady didn’t want to speak to me anymore,” Rechenbach said, “So I went into my DeFi wallet and sure enough, 1.2 billion Elon was gone, which is about worth $1,400 at this point.”

The Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Sentinel reported crypto-related scams skyrocketed to nearly 7,000 people reporting losses of more than $80 million from October 2020 through March 31, 2021. These figures reflect a 12-fold increase in the number of reports compared to the same period a year ago and a nearly 1,000% rise in reported losses.

“I should never have given the phrase out. I mean I was just trusting social media,” Rechenbach said.

Rechenbach reported the scam to the federal trade commission and to the FBI. Investigators say scammers generally aim to obtain access to a target’s digital wallet, or authentication credentials.

Experts said it’s extremely important that your private keys, the string of letters and numbers, similar to a password, used to unlock access to cryptocurrency, remain undisclosed to the public.

All in all, it’s important to remain skeptical when receiving outside messages regarding your crypto wallet. So, be aware of fake accounts claiming to be crypto influencers or celebrities.