Cryptocurrency scam: San Diego man loses tens of thousands of dollars

What began as a routine phone call quickly spiraled into a nightmare for Jurek Wasowski.

“I am devastated,” Wasowski lamented, reflecting on the scam that upended his life.

It was a summer day when Wasowski’s phone rang.

“I never answer calls from unknown numbers, but at that moment, I happened to be occupied and picked up,” he recalled.

On the other end of the line was a warm voice, leading to an unexpected connection over their shared Slavic heritage.

As an immigrant, Wasowski found solace in the conversation. They conversed twice over the phone before transitioning to texting via the Telegram app.

Identifying herself as Lena, the woman disclosed her involvement in crypto trading.

Wasowski, who already dabbled in cryptocurrency investments, expressed interest in learning more. Lena, in turn, offered to mentor him.

Initially investing $800, Wasowski increased his stakes significantly after witnessing profits, ultimately pouring in around $100,000.

Lena reinforced their bond with numerous messages and media, promising financial security for Wasowski’s retirement.

However, the cryptocurrency platform she recommended turned out to be fraudulent.

This type of scam, known as “pig butchering,” often masquerades as online romance or friendship while targeting cryptocurrency investments.

“The reality is many of these scammers are adept at manipulating our emotions,” explained Eva Velasquez of the Identity Theft Resource Center in a 2022 interview with ABC 10News. “When you’re in that state, warning signs that might be obvious to others aren’t so apparent to you.”

Recovering transferred funds from such scams proves exceedingly difficult.

“I attempt to carry on, but it’s a struggle,” Wasowski confessed. “I pray for justice to prevail because I’ve never encountered such cruelty.”

According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, cryptocurrency investment fraud surged from $907 million in 2021 to $2.57 billion in 2022.

Wasowski’s retirement plans have been dashed.

“I’ll have to work until my last breath,” he resignedly told ABC 10News.

His advice to others is to exercise caution and monitor their finances diligently.

Federal agencies emphasize that only scammers promise substantial returns and demand cryptocurrency payments. They caution against investing based on online “romantic interests,” which are often part of a scam.

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