The Catfish of Poverty: Part 3
the twist on the twist - the final installment of the catfish crypto saga
Alrighty, we are here for Part 3, for the final installment of the story about that “hot german” crypto expert. I didn’t put crypto expert in quotes because he really is a crypto expert… who uses his powers for evil.
We left off back when I’d just realized where the scam was, and that it was, in fact almost-definitely a scam. It was RIX, the random ass browser in coinbase wallet where we sent our money. It is… so annoying, because if someone had explained this entire process beforehand, and I knew ahead of time that Rix is where the money stayed, and was traded, I would have been able to see: oh, that’s the scam. But unfortunately… balls were dropped. To say the least.
So, as soon as I realized the scam, I texted our three-person group text, “The Richest Bitches.” (Which, we have since changed to "The Richest Bitches?”)
“I’ve figured out where the scam is. I think Jonas is involved with Rix. I’m pretty sure Rix is the scam.”
I googled “coinbase Rix scam”. Nothing.
I googled “coinbase Rix”. Nothing comes up. Nothing. If this was a legit, something would come up. SOMETHING. People would be talking about all the money they are making (or losing) betting on RIX. But there was absolutely nothing.
I now wanted nothing to do with this, even more than before, and I immediately tried to transfer my $934 back to coinbase. And I knew… I might already scammed. I probably was.
My mom for some reason, as she continued chopping potatoes for dinner, was encouraging me to keep my money in there and try to “scam the scammer,” and get my $100 back before transferring the money, which will probably go down as some of her worst advice ever.
What, are we in a spy movie now?! Didn’t she know I wanted to go to BED?!?! I didn’t even want to do this back when I thought there was a chance this wasn’t a scam.
“Mom, that is not going to work. I can’t scam the scammer. If this is a scam, and they see that someone who doesn’t have a “handler” (Jonas) has now deposited money into their RIX scam, do you think they’re going to let me make money and then transfer it all out? I probably already lost this money.”
I looked at the transaction status. The money was frozen. The money still showed up in my RIX account, but it said “frozen” next to it now. The status of the transfer? “Confirming.”
It wasn’t going to let me transfer the money out. I knew it in my bones.
This was the scam.
I got scammed. DAMN I knew it all along. How did I even let this happen.
EVEN though I knew I’d been scammed, on the off-chance that I was wrong… or just for good measure, I chatted that damn customer service chat.
“Hi I just tried to send money to coinbase and now it says it's frozen - is that a normal step of the process?”
-Yes, withdrawals are completed and resume normal-
Damnit this is probably Jonas chatting with me.
“How long does it take?”
-Hello, the encrypted network is verifying your receiving address, the verification is correct and will be sent to your bound receiving address automatically, please wait patiently.-
I sent the screenshots of the chat to the group text, and then called Matt and Kara.
I said, “Kara, this is where the scam is. This is the part where we moved our money OUT of coinbase, and into someone else’s control. And I looked up coinbase rix and there is literally NOTHING on it. Don’t you think there should be something?”
She said, “Yea… there should be. I mean, I thought that too.” UGH.
She continued, “Well I just tried to transfer out another $2,500, and now mine says frozen too.”
I said, “I dunno, it could be just a normal temporary step while they send your money to coinbase but… I think this is the scam.”
She said, “Ok… so Jonas just reached out to me… is it weird that he reached out 4 minutes after I tried to transfer more money?”
Matt said, “YES.” He was sick of tip-toeing, I could tell. I knew that Kara might be on the edge of choosing to believe me or choosing to believe the scam. And I wasn’t sure which one she was going to choose yet.
I said, “I don’t know, is this a normal time for him to be talking to you?”
She said, “Yes, BUT he just told me to get ready to make a trade. We don’t usually do it this early.”
I said, “HA! Of course he does it early the night that I was maybe going to do it, but now CAN’T anyway because my money is “frozen.””
He had her bet $12,000. She made $3,000 in the account instantly.
She said, “This is just so insane …I don’t even know what to think.”
She was being very quiet. I could tell she was resisting going into panic, and was kind of shutting down. OR, she was deciding I was wrong, and this was not a scam, as another tactic to avoid panic.
We got off the phone, and she texted us: “Ok, Jonas said that the money will only transfer M-F during business hours.”
“Ok well, WHY didn’t the chat bot say that to me.”
We kept calling it a “chat bot” because Kara said it was a bot, but it didn’t feel like a chat bot to me. It felt like… a scammer person with broken english.
Right now, I was 99.99% sure it was a scam, and my money was gone. But I thought that if it was a scam, and it was letting Kara take out money in the hope that she was going to keep putting more money in, I thought… well… they’re only going to give me my money if they think my suspicion will compromise their mark: Kara. So, with that theory, I chatted the scam/customer service again:
“Will my money transfer tonight?”
I decided to go to sleep. It was 11 pm at this point, and now that I was scammed, the last thing I wanted was to be scammed AND stay up late.
I woke up to a text from Kara saying, “Ok bitch, I transferred 2,500, and then another 2,500 again last night. And they both worked. Tell me yours went through.”
Wow, she had now gotten out way more than she had put in.
I checked mine. Nope. Frozen.
It’s a scam, but they are working her so well, she isn’t going to believe it…
I responded, “I think they are just letting you transfer it out in the hopes that you’re gonna stay in. Like they’re trying to keep you in, betting more.”
I opened up the chat “bot” again, and saw a message waiting for me.
-Hello, your withdrawal is under review, the audit will be completed immediately for your withdrawal, the bank does not work on Saturday, your money will reach the withdrawal account on Monday, thank you!-
What bank. I was sending it to coinbase. This is bullshit. It’s literally Jonas, he made up that story to her about the M-F and now the chat is saying it too.
I continued messaging them. I was letting them know their jig was gonna be up with my friend, because it was my only hope. And no, I didn’t really think it was going to work.
“My friend was able to withdraw money from RIX last night, why isn't mine going through? She did two transfers last night and both worked. I did one, earlier than her, and you're telling me it won't work until Monday - but you never mentioned it waiting til Monday when I asked about this yesterday”
It was hopeless. I was either in a fight with a bot. Or I was in a fight with a scammer. Either way, I was going to lose.
“This feels like a scam. some people can send money on a Friday night but others are told to wait til Monday?”
Then the chat “bot” said:
-Hello, please be patient-
Anything I wrote to it after this, it has responded the same: “Hello, please be patient.”
I sent this screenshot to the Richest Bitches.
Pretty much only Matt was responding in the group chat at this point, and then he called me.
“Bitch, this is definitely a scam. And I don’t like how Kara is going silent on this.”
“I know. I know but she is busy today, she is babysitting all day. She’s also probably processing this…”
Kara had just told us that the job at a start-up that she was supposed to start on Monday emailed her that morning to say that the seed money fell through, and she didn’t have a job anymore. It was a lot going on in one weekend for one person. I was annoyed she wasn’t really responding normally, because… I just seemingly lost $1K, and she did not. But, I knew this was a lot to take in, so I was gonna give her a few hours to process.
He said, “I don’t like that every time I would question anything about this, she would act like she had already looked into EVERYTHING it could possibly be. Because bitch, I just looked up “crypto up down betting” and found what this is in 5 minutes. It was easy to find. It’s called spreadbetting. And it’s illegal in the US.”
“Yes, it sounds exactly like it too. Scammers gain your trust by having you put in a small investment, you make bets on crypto, if you bet right, your money grows, and they let you take some out, so you put in more, but then at a certain point, they take away your access to the money. AND it turns out the money she is making is actually real. Which is why they let you take some out. It just doesn’t belong to you once you put it into these scam accounts.”
“Damn. Ok, you have to tell her that.”
“Right now? She isn’t even responding. Should we wait til she does?”
“Uhhhh, no do it now. Just tell her what you learned about spread betting, and how it works. I’m afraid if you don’t tell her, she is going to side with the scammer because she has been so bamboozled, and they keep letting her take money out.”
So he did, he sent voice memos explaining the entire thing to our Richest Bitches chat, and we waited.
I side texted her and said that Matt figured out how it’s working, and why they’re letting her take money out — for now.
Eventually, maybe an hour later, she responded to me:
“I think he's prob exactly right... wow this is going to be one heck of a story on substack. I just tried another transfer, this time 5k and it's frozen, and the bot said it "will clear" on Monday.... Update him in the group for me, It's nuts with these children right now.”
So I did. I screenshot that and sent it to the group. Why she didn’t just send it to the group, I do not know. But… then we didn’t hear from her for the rest of the day.
Matt was pissed. He said there was no excuse. I said… “I know… it’s not cool. I’m pissed. It’s not ok. But… maybe she is busy? And I think she is panicking and deciding what to believe.”
He said, “Caroline… I mean… is it possible at all that… she is part of the scam?”
“ — No. No… No it’s not.”
“Not that she is the mastermind but maybe she’s become the… Allison Mack to his Keith Reniere?”
“… No. No I really don’t think so.”
This is where I have to tell you though, that Kara was my friend who I… met on the internet. We had been friends for about 6 months. We’d bonded over a health influencer we both were annoyed by, and all our communication was around that one person/topic, and sending screenshots of annoying captions to each other for months. Eventually, we figured out we had a lot in common. We were in a similar place in our lives and had a ton of similar interests. So, we became friends. Very few of my other friends are using dating apps so, that’s why we started talking about the people we were meeting on dating apps and….. HERE WE ARE. SCAMMED BY RIX. DAMN FUCK SHIT.
But I have to say, it really did beg at least the question: was she a scammer? Like… was she? I really really really did not think so. That would be been… the longest con. Almost six months of talking about anything but crypto. All for what… $1034? Also, she had not even tried to get me involved in this. Matt did. So… it just didn’t add up. But… her silence was spooking me.
I hadn’t heard from her at all for the rest of the day, so I side texted her that night, away from the group chat, asking if she was ok and wanted to talk about it all before I went to bed.
I went to bed really frustrated. In my communication with her, I was trying to coddle, what I imagined were, her tumultuous emotions at the time. I was imaging she was experiencing panic. Or worse, delusion and anger towards me, because I was trying to ruin her fun and path to riches. I didn’t know what was going through her head. But I imagined it wasn’t fun. But I was the one who just lost $1K. And now she wasn’t talking to me. And I was getting pissed.
I texted Matt, “I am so pissed. This is insane. I don’t understand what is going on.”
“Bitch, we literally cracked the damn case. She should be thanking us, updating us on if she is still talking to Jonas, and worried about your lost money. This is a weird and selfish response.”
“UGH. I am going to bed, and I better have a text from her in the morning.” As we knew, she stayed up way later than me. And she was babysitting. I mean… it was 10:45 and we always texted at this hour. But… I dunno. I was numb.
I woke up around 7:30. No text.
I was now angry and extremely confused. Mostly because I cannot imagine ever doing this, going so radio silent, if I were in her position, and she were in mine. I was pissed, but I also wanted to hear from her. So instead of expressing how angry I was, I was taking a more understanding tone / route for now.
I texted her at 11 am, “Kara! I'm getting worried that I haven't heard from you, and I want to know how you're doing. Maybe you're just processing all of this, or are really busy, but I'm feeling really unsettled and would like to talk about what happened / is happening with all of this”
No response at all.