TIME Crime

Bitcoin Scam Costs Wisconsin Man $150,000

George Frey—Getty Images

Jamie Russell had been trying to exchange the digital currency for physical bitcoins

A Wisconsin man has lost $150,000 after attempting to exchange a stash of digital currency bitcoins for physical bitcoin tokens with a British scam artist.

Jamie Russell, 34, was attempting to secure money he had made investing in bitcoin when a unit of the digital currency was trading for $5 (it’s trading today for well over $800 per bitcoin). He contacted a British man through the website bitcointalk.org and arranged to send him 201.7 virtual bitcoins in exchange for 190 physical bitcoin tokens. These tokens do exist, and are typically physical “coins” loaded with the encrypted digital currency.

When the British man did not send him the physical tokens and cut off communication, Russell reported the theft to U.K. authorities, TwinCities.com reports. Russell does not expect to get his money back, even if the person who stole from him is prosecuted.

Despite the fraud, Russell remains a bitcoin proponent. “Everything I’ve done in the bitcoin realm has been with my eyes wide open,” he said.


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