Jacksonville woman warns others after losing $91K on cryptocurrency website

14 views 12:16 pm 0 Comments April 12, 2024

Cryptocurrency has been a popular topic recently. Some people are intrigued, others find it way too complicated. Its complexity can make it easier for someone to fall for a potential scam.

That’s what happened to one Jacksonville woman who appears to have lost almost $100,000 this year, and she hopes her story acts as a warning to others.

“I saw it was making interest, and I was like okay it’s working,” said Svetlana Rogacheva. That instant gratification is what got her hooked.

The Jacksonville resident says she heard from a friend about a way to invest in cryptocurrency and profit quick and easy. The platform’s website they mentioned ended in .mom, which she thought sounded strange, but her friend spoke so highly of it, Rogacheva thought she’d give it a try.

She approached with caution, only putting a few thousand onto the platform as a test in January. Rogacheva watched it grow then tried transferring some money to her bank account.

“The $50, $100, I tried to put it back in my real bank account. I took it out just to test it,” she explained. “It did go through. I got the money into my real bank account in maybe like a day.”

That confirmation was all she felt she needed, so she dove in.

“I took out, like three different loans and wired that money to coin-based exchange and then to coin-based wallet,” explained Rogacheva. “I ended up getting… putting 101,000 into the wallet, which gives you… it was showing me that it was giving you 1% interest a day.”

Everything seemed fine until early February, when she pulled out her phone to check the website, which had been moved to a different URL and noticed it had crashed.

Worried, Rogacheva tried transferring portions of money to her bank account from the platform. She did it twice, and it worked both times.

“So I thought, let’s not do the whole thing, let’s do twenty. So I requested to take out $20,000 out of the coin-based wallet onto the coin-based exchange,” she said. “And I click enter, and then I see next, the $91,000 – gone.”

“I was like, did I do something wrong? What’s happening, what’s going on?”

From $91,000 to zero – with an error that read “Smart contract failed.”

“It was just frustration and not understanding trying… disbelief, what’s going on, what’s happening?” Rogacheva explained.

Jacksonville Police can’t speak specifically about Rogacheva’s case, but Lieutenant Ashley Potter says it’s easy for people to get caught up in scams where they’re investing in something with a quick return. She says people should always be skeptical.

“We live in a time where we don’t see a lot of quick returns,” Potter said.

Potter recommends doing your homework to protect yourself, especially if a website seems odd.

“Looking at the internet address when you’re going to these sites… if it’s something that’s constantly changing, if it’s a URL that you don’t recognize, something that’s not very common,” Potter said. “You can take that information and you can type it into a Google search engine and type in things like scam or fraud.”

Lt. Potter says Jacksonville Police might not handle the investigation, but can still take a report.

“We want the documentation, so any emails, bank account statements, anything that’s got tracking numbers, so that we can go ahead and compile all of this,” she said.

From there, Potter says Jacksonville police would work with the FBI’s Internet Crimes Complaint Center – or IC3 – to investigate.

The FBI puts together an Internet Crime Report each year based on IC3 submissions. Their 2023 data shows Rogacheva is far from alone. In fact, investment fraud losses with a reference to cryptocurrency rose from 2.57 billion dollars in 2022 to 3.96 billion dollars in 2023 in the U.S. -an increase of 53%.

“In Svetlana’s case, there’s approximately $91,000. We have seen cases ranging all the way up to $21 million,” said Agustine Barbara with the Crypto Lawyers.

Rogacheva contacted Barbara about her case. He says many people think of cryptocurrency as complicated so it’s easy to brush things off that seem odd.

“If they catch you at the right time, I think everyone is susceptible to it – if they catch you at the right time,” Barbara said, adding that the odds of getting your money back aren’t zero but are low.

Meanwhile, Rogacheva says she knows she may never see any of her money again and is instead focused on moving forward.

“There’s nothing else I can do, maybe warn people so they don’t make my mistakes,” she said.

It’s important to remember that scammers are always looking for new ways to take advantage of people.

We did compile some additional advice from Lt. Potter.

1. Red flag: Government entities telling you to pay them via cryptocurrency, gift cards

2. Red flag: Online dating app: Someone you’ve never met in real life suggesting you invest or send them money to come visit you

3. Advice: If a government entity or business calls you and asks you to pay a bill, verify that. Look up their number and contact them yourself to ask about that bill.

4. Advice: Do a Google search for a website before you invest money into it.

We reached out to a WhatsApp contact number for the crypto wallet Rogacheva used, but we haven’t heard back.

If you think you have lost money or have been targeted by an internet scam, you can submit a complaint through the IC3.