In an offline bitcoin trade gone wrong, two men who engaged in a peer-to-peer transaction to sell bitcoin have been duped by the buyer, a conman who swapped a whole lot of wastepaper purporting to be cash, for the cryptocurrency.
The two Belarussian citizens agreed to swap 500 bitcoins for about €400,000 (approx. $430,000) with a single buyer, at a pub near the center of Como, a lakeside city in Italy. Having arrived in Como specifically for the trade, the two sellers asked the buyer to prove that his interest in the transaction was legitimate. To this, the buyer opened a suitcase full of cash, supposedly fill the tune of €400,000.
Upon sighting the cash, the sellers then used their laptop to transfer their bitcoins over to a wallet address provided by the buyer. The lunchtime con was complete with lunch between the scammer and his victims, who concluded the transaction with a handshake.
After the buyer took leave, leaving his suitcase behind with the sellers, the two Belarussian citizens made the stinging discovery. As one report by local publication Corriere di Como revealed, only €3,000 were, in fact, real, as six €500 bills placed at the top of the cash pile. The remaining ‘cash’ amounting to €397,000? Wastepaper.
The two victims approached the local police station and law enforcement agents have since visited the bar where the transaction took place to comb for clues. An investigation is currently underway in the hopes of identifying the fraudster.
P2P transactions are entirely common among bitcoin adopters. According to one weekly chart, a total value of up to $17 million in bitcoins were transacted via LocalBitcoins, a leading P2P platform for transactions. As with any personal interaction however, the otherwise straightforward swap could take an unexpected turn.
In one incident from June 2016, a bitcoin-for-cash transaction, a 32-year-old man from Florida was robbed at knifepoint as he attempted to swap $28,000 for bitcoin. In mid-2015, a man who set up an exchange over a Craigslist post in Brooklyn, New York, found himself staring at two pistols during an attempt to sell the cryptocurrency for cash.
Images from Shutterstock.