LocalBitcoins.com Accused of Stealing Bitcoins, Has Them in Escrow Since May 2015
We take it for granted that when you invest in any kind of cryptocurrency, because it's decentralized in nature, it means that it is completely owned by you, with nothing and no-one getting between the owner and the digital assets that they own.
That's pretty much what it's life for people, right? Well, unless you're one of the fortunate majority lucky enough to never feel the unfortunate sting of poor practices or theft in the crypto world, a market which will make any scope of theft truly sting.
Sadly, this is the story of one individual that stored their personal hoard of 9.3 Bitcoin (worth $60,000). Having previously stored it with LocalBitcoins, the Reddit user then found themselves being subject to a charge-back scam, starting them off down a journey which would see their 9.3 Bitcoin being illegally held on an escrow.
“In may 2015 /BTC-OTC/ scammed me and other 6 persons using bank transfer chargeback which led to my bank account being closed and all my funds frozen for 45 days. At the time BTC-OTC was one of the most reputable traders on Localbitcoins.”
The users account was subject, not just to the intial scam, but also to a subsequent freezing by the platform, forcing the user to report the situation to the company and to the local police.
“I shortly reported this to localbitcoins.com which led to BTC-OTC's account being banned and funds being locked – also made a police fraud complaint to the relevant authority in UK.”
Shortly after this action, LocalBitcoins replied to the user, suggesting that they take action to report the theft to the police in order to reclaim the lost funds.
“Localbitcoins freezed the funds stating the following in my support ticket:
While this appeared to be an expedient reply for the user, they point out that it has been 8 months since the ticket was first filed with no meaningful action being taken since.
“Since then I've been actively trying to get my coins with no result receiving only one single reply on my support ticket in 8 months.”
The user then took it into their own hands in order to get some kind of response after 8 months of seeing no meaningful progress on their project, messaging ‘Max' on both LinkedIn and Reddit.
“When contacting Max on linkedin his reply was:
When contacting Max on reddit his reply was – Nevertheless 6 months passed with no reply on my ticket.
I emailed Jeremias Kangas (CEO & Founder of LBC) with no success. Also in my numerous visits at Metropolitan Police with this issue I was advised the same, this is a localbitcoins.com customer service issue not a legal issue.”
With only a number of token replies from Max on both LinkedIn and Reddit, including contacting the CEO of LocalBitcoins to no avail, the Reddit user was then resolved to take the complaint onto the police by filing a report while also taking it to the users local fraud agency.
“Police official statement on my complaint
National Fraud Intelligence Bureau advised to change my fraud complaint against localbitcoins in order for them to investigate and contact localbitcoins regarding the case.
After 6 months of waiting, Max's reply was [below], after sharing all the info on both support ticket and email he replied on email:”
But even this proved insufficient for getting the attention of LocalBitcoins, even when the responsibility for contacting and creating a dialogue was taken to specialist units of the London Metropolitan Police.
“I knew this won't go anywhere so meanwhile I found a Metropolitan Police Sergeant specialized in blockchain and cyber-crime that understood this issue and decided to help me by contacting them using the fraud report I made in 2015.
Almost 2 months passed since he contacted localbitcoins (3 times) receiving no reply.
Reason I'm posting this is that there are other 5 persons in this very situation, also other hundreds based on the posts complaining online.”
The unfortunate user has no moved on to undergo major legal proceedings against the company after nearly three years of inactivity over their potential loss of over $60,000 worth of Bitcoin and missing out on any forks that he could have collected other cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin Cash.
“Now I'm in the process of taking legal action. I've been in contact with over 40 lawyers from Finland, and found only 2 that are looking to take this case and quoted me at €10.000 to €15.000 for civil proceedings,
One of the lawyers stated that I should also be also eligible for BTC + BCH as per blog post – HERE
Finnish Law allows the only Ombudsman to initiate a class action lawsuit so this can be settled only in civil court
If you are a victim of this or you can help please get in touch.”
What this users post demonstrates is that while the cryptocurrency world is becoming increasingly professionalized, the price of this increasing mainstream appeal is constant vigilance to make sure they are held accountable.