CRYPT — Naum Lantsman was confident in the profitability of his bitcoin holdings. It seemed like he was making a killing every time he logged into his trading account. While many people fall victim to bitcoin fraud, Lantsman was just one of many. I knew, I was reading, but I just knew that I wouldn’t become one of them,” he remarked.
After the outbreak turned his life upside down, Lantsman, then 74, started investing in cryptocurrency. He owns a business that supplies restaurants in the Los Angeles area with tools and supplies. However, after learning that a lockdown was to take place, several of them went out of business. Lantsman said, “I lost a lot of customers because a lot of restaurants and bars closed.”
His retirement money, which he managed alone, also took a hit as stock markets swung erratically due to the pandemic. He was nonchalantly browsing Instagram when he saw an advertisement for SpireBit. According to its website, it is a London-based “international financial broker” that helps clients buy and sell cryptocurrencies. A company representative identified as Pavel contacted Lantsman using the Telegram messaging service after opening an account. He used Lantsman’s native language, Russian, in his writings.
They began talking frequently, discussing their shared experiences growing up in the Soviet Union, and swapping stories about their vacations and their families. When Lantsman first opened his SpireBit account, he deposited $500. After logging on, it appeared that his investment had nearly doubled in value within weeks, giving him reason to be optimistic. Pavel persuaded him to put more and more of his money into investments over the course of several months. Lantsman eventually invested all of his savings (nearly $340,000) into the SpireBit platform.
According to his son, “When he logged into SpireBit, he saw a very convincing fake platform that looked like deposited money, and that money was growing.” However, no progress has been made. His SpireBit earnings charts have been completely fabricated. Lantsman discovered this when he tried to withdraw money from his account. A document purportedly from UK bank Barclays was provided to us by SpireBit. According to the document, Lantsman was required to transfer SpireBit 2% of the requested sum as a “security measure”. (A Barclays representative verified that the document was fake.)