This particular scam is thankfully a lot quicker to discredit than my last article which exposed the CWE Trading Bot Ponzi Scheme. The 996 Bitcoins scam is basically a dragnet exercise to try and scare/extort people into paying a settlement fee to avoid a bigger litigation cost. It’s hilariously bad and obviously a scam but I thought it was worth publishing in case anyone out there has received the same threats and is in danger of falling for it. Or at least so we can all have a bit of a laugh.
In January I received a physical letter to my office and also an email which purported me to be the defendant in a class action law suit against cryptocurrencies based on bitcoin. I am the chief engineer of NavCoin so i guess they found my contact details on the web somewhere.
The summary of the letter is that someone was victim to a theft of 996 bitcoins in 2013 and they claim the theft created legal precedent that makes me liable for damages in a class action law suit. The letter instructs me to pay 4 BTC to avoid a legal suit that could expose me to £15M costs in damages.
The letter looks official enough at a glance but the wheels really fall off at a rapid rate when we start to dig into the details. Let’s list out all the things which discredit the letter which i found within the first 5 minutes of investigation.
The lawyer who supposedly issued the letter is letter is David MacDonald from Sabals Law which is registered in the British Virgin Islands. The website looks pretty amateur. That fact aside, David MacDonald is not listed on sabalslaw.com as an employee.
The email is not sent from the sabalslaw.com domain, instead it is sent from email@example.com which is an anonymous email provider.
The law firm claims to represent the “Crypto Currency Resolution Trust of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas” which doesn’t appear to exist on the internet. I also can’t find any information about Tom Curry who supposedly had the 996 bitcoins stolen from him.
The witness to the affidavit is Johnathan Levy of “Global Attorneys Org” which does have a website but it has virtually zero information about the organisation. I also can’t find an employee by that name on the site or on LinkedIn. Additionally a whois search of the DNS record for globalattorneys.org is hidden behind an anonymous registrar service.
If you look at the affidavit stamp and signature of Johnathan Levy, it is clearly underneath the text of the affidavit. Pretty sloppy photoshop editing. Whoever made that document needs to learn how to use alpha channels.
The guy who authorised the mailing of the affidavit is someone called Christopher Earl Strunk who is reported by the Huffington Post as being a “birther” who was Ordered To Pay $177,000 for filling a frivolous lawsuit to get Barack Obama removed from the 2012 ballot.
I’ve saved the best for last though. The pièce de résistance of this letter is that one of the defendants on the roll call is the one and only Satoshi Nakamoto. When I read this nearly fell off my chair laughing. Good luck with that one guys, please let us all know if you find him.
In summary; A lawyer who doesn’t work for a law firm from the Bahamas that represents a non-existent Virgin Islands organisation is trying to prosecute a New Zealand Citizen citing United Kingdom legislation in relation to Bitcoin which were reportedly stolen before NavCoin even existed, using a photoshopped affidavit sent from an anonymous email provider and mailed by a lawyer whose been previously prosecuted for being involved in a very public frivolous law suit.
Sounds totally legit. Where do i pay?
I looked up the BTC and ETH addresses they were asking for payment to and they do appear to have had some payments to them but it totals less than 1 BTC between them so I’m guessing no one’s fallen victim yet thankfully.
I’ve reported these guys to to my local cyber crime authority.
I’ve also uploaded the PDF of the letter they sent me for your reading pleasure with my personal details blanked out of course and the interesting parts highlighted.
Stay safe out there.