Sussex-Based Couple Loses £15,000 to Scammers


Loreta and Mindaugas from Horsham, Sussex, were lured in a fake bonus offer from a fraudster who seemed to be working for Coinbase Platform - shortly before the site was listed as a public company.

Mindaugas, an executive at a UK-based company, received an email on March 24, 2021, that purportedly came from Coinbase, claiming that he was eligible for a bonus on Coinbase. The victim tried to claim a £60 bonus supposedly offered by Coinbase and in just nine minutes, £ 15,000 were deducted from the couple’s crypto savings. 

“At first, we thought it might be some kind of mistake or a glitch. But since their knowledge base had no option that covered any bugs or glitches, we decided to inform Coinbase that my husband’s account has been compromised. But all we got back was a password reset request,” Loreta said. 

Coinbase is a popular stock trading website used for buying and selling Cryptocurrency with over 56 million users and worth $ 99.6 billion. 

Double Fraud

Shortly after changing his account password, Mindaugas received a second call from the supposed Coinbase support agent. The scammer told him that Coinbase was answering to the open support ticket concerning his compromised account and promptly began to question Mindaugas about the cyber fraud. 

After finishing the interrogation, the scammer offered Mindaugas two options.“Either we call the police, in which case there is no guarantee that we’ll ever get our money back, or they give us a refund without getting involved with the authorities. My husband was still in shock and rather disoriented, so at that moment, he agreed to proceed with the second option,” Loreta told CyberNews. 

“He said 'we see that you have an account at Binance and since Coinbase and Binance are sister companies' - and that’s when I saw he was trying to dupe us. Next thing I hear; he’s telling us to prove our identity either by transferring £5,000 from our Binance account to Coinbase or by giving them our Binance authentication code so that they can transfer the missing £15,000 to my husband’s Binance account" Loreta explained.

After spotting suspicious activity, Mindaugas and Loreta declined to trade and reported the fraud to the police. However, his case was promptly closed due to a ‘lack of evidence’. They also contacted Coinbase for help but they've had no response. 

"We’re still waiting for an answer. And since 'only' £15,000 was stolen, we’re not very hopeful that the police will do anything about it," Loreta said. 

The Cyber News investigation team began investigating the fraud after the couple contacted them for help. Researchers have identified that cryptocurrencies have been cleaned in an elaborate way Wallet network. This effectively makes stolen funds “untraceable” and helps scammers to prevent them from being caught. 

“Due to the anonymity of the crypto market, scams targeting the general public tend to be barely visible. In fact, phishing attacks are becoming more sophisticated, making it increasingly difficult to identify fake messages that appear to come from trusted people or brands. Companies like Coinbase need to be responsible for keeping their customers as safe as possible,” Edvardas Mikalauskas, Senior Researcher at Cyber News, stated. 

“They need to implement strict controls in detecting and blocking malicious or anomalous activity before criminals have the opportunity to steal cryptocurrencies. CyberNews always previews URLs before clicking links or buttons, pays attention to messages sent to your inbox, and tells consumers to use unique passwords and multi-factor authentication for their online accounts, and warned that the embedded link is a “serious danger signal,” Edvardas added.