Yangyel Lhaden

A Bhutanese man came across a bitcoin trader on Instagram with the handle name Trader__david._ Recently, he had read an article in The Diplomat, an international current affairs magazine for the Asia-Pacific region, discussing Bhutan’s potential to become the world’s largest per capita producer of cryptocurrency. Intrigued by the news, he decided to chat with the so-called trader in the hopes of earning some extra income. Here is how it all happened.

Man: Hello, can I get more information?

Trader: Hello, sir. I am a professional trader. We have many premium slots in stocks where we invest your money to generate good profits. How much would you like to invest?

Man: I want to start with the minimum investment. Can you guarantee your service?

Trader: Investing Nu 10,000 will yield Nu 49,999. Investing Nu 20,000 will yield Nu 99,999. Investing Nu 30,000 will yield Nu 158,000. Investing Nu 50,000 will yield Nu 275,000. How much do you want to invest, sir?

Man: How about Nu 10,000?

Trader: By investing Nu 10,000, you can expect to earn a profit within 15 to 20 minutes.

Man: Yes, let’s get started. However, I hope this is genuine and not a scam.

The man had never heard of people being scammed through fake accounts. He relies solely on the “news” tab in Google for his news updates and was unaware of the repeated advocacy and awareness programmes by government agencies regarding scams.

Trader: Don’t worry, brother. You are in the right place, and we won’t cheat you. I promise you that your trust won’t be broken. We only engage in legal, genuine, and ethical work. You are completely safe with us.

Trader then provided a Bank of Bhutan account number, 208753992, under the name of Abhishek Gurung.

The man inquired once again about any evidence proving the legitimacy of the trading. However, upon seeing a Bhutanese bank and account holder, he became convinced that it was genuine.

Trader: Rest assured, sir. We have satisfied over 3,200 clients who consistently receive their profits. You need not worry, as I personally guarantee that your profits will be deposited into your bank account. Maintaining your trust is my responsibility, and as my valued client, I never want to lose your confidence. Sir, please know that I am here to wholeheartedly support you.

The man deposited Nu 10,000 and sent a screenshot, hoping to receive Nu 49,999.

Trader: Thank you for your investment. Now, sir, you’ll need to wait for 20 minutes.

Trader: Congratulations, sir. I have invested your Nu 10,000 in bitcoin mining, and now you’ll need to pay Nu 24,999 as a security deposit. Don’t worry, sir, the security deposit will be refunded to you. You’ll receive Nu 74,998 within a minute. This is a mandatory procedure.

Man: I don’t have the money.

Trader: Sir, the security deposit is compulsory. However, rest assured that it will be refunded to you.

Man: If this is a scam, the account holder will face serious consequences.

Trader: Listen, brother. We have humanity between us, and we won’t cheat you. We are not like those who deceive others. We are simply helping people earn money. So, trust us and make the payment. Afterward, you will surely see positive results.

The man became convinced and sent Nu 24,999.

Trader: Thank you for the payment, sir. Now, please wait for two minutes to receive your profit.

The man waited and then typed: “Two minutes have already passed.”

Trader: Please be patient, sir.

Trader: Congratulations, sir. Your profit has now increased to Nu 142,000. Is this your first online trading investment?

Man: Yes.

Trader: Hey, we have completed 95% of your work. Now, only 5 percent remains. You’ll need to pay the final fee, which is the Goods and Services Tax (GST) amounting to Nu 55,000. The GST fee is not for us but for the Bhutanese government. After this payment, you’ll receive Nu 142,000.

Man: I don’t have that much money. Please refund my money.

Trader: Your money is currently stuck, and unless you pay the GST, don’t ask for a refund. Please ask your friends for money, and in a minute, I will send your money back, and you can repay your friends.

Man: You should have told me this earlier. Just send my money back, or else I will take legal action against you.

Trader: Trust me just one percent, and I assure you one hundred and ten percent that you will get your money back within two minutes.

After much hesitation, the man transferred Nu 55,000 to trader. By this point, he had prematurely closed his recurring deposit of Nu 40,000, asked for advances from his clients, borrowed money from his mother and friends, totaling Nu 50,000.

Man: This is the last money I’m sending. How long will it take?

The man once again dropped his account number in the chat.

Trader: Since I have worked for you, now you need to pay my fee of Nu 20,000. In total, you’ll receive Nu 332,000. This is my working fee, sir. Kindly pay my fee!

Man: I can’t continue with this. I’m going to the police station. Please refund my money. Just send it back to me, please. I’m really helpless! I borrowed money from different people to give it to you. Hello?

Within a span of four hours, he lost Nu 89,999.

The man is currently seeking legal recourse against the scammer. Though he does not expect to recover his money, his primary objective is to seek justice and ensure that those responsible for the scam are held accountable. He hopes to prevent others from falling victim to similar fraudulent schemes.

If you have been scammed or suspect potential scammers, report the incident to cirt@btcirt.bt and the Office of Consumer Protection.

Note: The original chat between Trader__david._ and the victim has been edited for clarity.