A senior citizen whose restaurant equipment business was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic put all of his life savings into cryptocurrency, only to find that the website he used was fake.
According to NPR, Naum Lantsman, 74, decided to invest in cryptocurrency via a platform called SpireBit, which he discovered through an Instagram advertisement.
The businessman from Los Angeles received a call from a representative whose name was Pavel and who, like Lantsman, spoke Russian and had been raised in the Soviet Union.
His initial investment was $500, and his SpireBit dashboard informed him that the sum had nearly doubled in a matter of weeks. Pavel persuaded Lantsman to invest more and more soon after, eventually investing his entire life savings of $340,000 in the site.
When Lantsman tried to withdraw some of his money, he discovered that it was all a ruse, despite the fact that his money seemed to be growing at an exponential rate.
His son Daniel told NPR that his father “saw a very compelling fake platform that looked like money was being deposited, and that money was growing” when he logged on to SpireBit.
Currently Withdrawing SpireBit emailed Lantsman a paper purporting to be from the British bank Barclay’s in response to his effort to withdraw some of his money. The financial institution confirmed that the document was forged, and it required him to send 2% of his requested amount “as a security measure” before the funds could be distributed.
The con not only conned Lantsman, but also other people.
Aleksey Madan, a 68-year-old from the former Soviet Union who also grew up there, had a story that was strikingly similar to that of Lantsman, right down to the forged banking documents and the requests to send more money for so-called security reasons.
Madan stated to NPR, “They were always promising me they were going to send me money back.” However, it always occurs after owing them an additional sum.
House of Cards discovered that SpireBit’s alleged founder and executives were not only fake people with stock image LinkedIn profile pictures, but also that the company is not associated with any of the significant crypto organizations it claims to collaborate with.
Furthermore, SpireBit’s alleged parent company, SBT Investments Limited, which is based in the United Kingdom, is not even its owner.
The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority issued a public warning about SpireBit after NPR began asking questions. The Financial Conduct Authority described SpireBit as an unauthorized company that uses other established businesses to “appear as if it is regulated.”