Experienced Horse Groom and Riding Instructor, Rebekah, 53, fell victim to a Bitcoin scam which left her in debt and claiming Universal Credit after being tricked into investing her life’s savings during the pandemic.                                                                           

Rebekah had spent her entire adult life vigilantly saving and creating a comfortable nest egg of just under £100,000 for her future but after a decade at her job, where the environment had become unpleasant and accommodation was included, Rebekah was no longer happy and was looking for an escape.

How it started

At the beginning of 2020, Rebekah came across a Facebook advert showing This Morning presenters, Phil and Holly, sitting on their famous sofa with a man sitting opposite claiming how easily he had made money investing in Bitcoin.

“At this point I didn’t know what a Bitcoin was and I had never invested in stocks and shares before. In my naivety I clicked on a link and it did the usual thing, ‘this opportunity is going fast’, ‘press now, only a few places left’ that kind of pressure and I clicked on it.”

Rebekah was quickly contacted by a man named ‘Andrew Glover’ whose intelligence and smooth talking charmed Rebekah at a difficult time in her life and who said all the right things.

“I wasn’t sure about it and left it for a while. But work started making my life very unpleasant and very difficult, and I wanted a way out and this man happened to phone at the right time. He said he could make things happen so I started investing into his company, Bit2Click.”

Rebekah had done her research and had looked up the company which had a glossy website and who were based in Switzerland. She even had their offices checked out by friends in Switzerland, who could confirm the building did exist. Andrew soon ‘helpfully’ set up her accounts and by doing so had quickly gained access to Rebekah’s computer.

A difficult time

Before she knew it, Rebekah became very unwell with what she suspects was Covid-19 and having handed in her notice, and with that having to find somewhere else to live, it was a very stressful time for her.

“During this time I had just gotten completely swept up with this man who would phone me nearly every morning and we talked about my wellbeing and he knew about my Mum and my little dog being ill. I trusted him 110%.”

Andrew had become a friend to Rebekah, discussing his family and faith and even gave her his ‘personal’ number, which she was honoured to have. He had gained her trust and from what she could see from her Bitcoin account, was making her money.

“One day he urged me to check my account and he’d made me the most ridiculous amount of money, something like £200,000. I couldn’t believe it and was so grateful. At this point all my savings were gone, I had invested everything.”

Scam revealed

Eventually, Rebekah’s bills began piling up and with her sick dog in need of an operation she asked for some of her money Andrew had made her. He told her the rules had changed in regard to sending money to the UK, and that she had to pay tax before it’s released. Andrew had sympathised with Rebekah and even offered his own money to help her out but like with other things, he was good at delaying. So, Rebekah borrowed £5,000 from a family friend and increased her credit card to £5,000 in case of an emergency and without her knowing, he had taken this money.

Andrew had gained full access to Rebekah’s personal computer when setting up her Bitcoin account, through software that allowed him to remotely use her computer and in doing so gained access to her credit card details.

“Slowly it began dawning on me that I had been scammed.”

Rebekah attempted to trick Andrew into returning some of her savings by pretending to come into a large sum of money that she wanted to invest but first needed some funds returned, this sadly failed when Andrew discovered she was now aware of the scam.

“I literally begged him for my money and never heard from him again.”

The search

Rebekah contacted her bank in the hopes of her money being returned but was told she had been grossly negligent and they couldn’t do anything.

“This was a slap in the face because you don’t just handover nearly £100,000 that you’ve worked hard for all your life, and be grossly negligent. You don’t have that much money sitting in the bank account if you haven’t worked hard and looked after your money all your life.”

“I had been with my bank since I was 18 and they’ve never seen that kind of money pass through my account ever, we’re talking £5,000, £12,000 and £15,000 at a time.”

Andrew had told Rebekah the Wirex account would only deal with a certain amount of money at one given time, but the real reason for this was to remain under a certain limit that doesn’t flag up suspicious alerts with the bank.

Rebekah’s bank had contacted her about the initial £5,000 that had left her account which she confirmed was fine. The bank told Rebekah they had warned her and that she hadn’t taken notice.

The aftermath

Having explored a variety of avenues to help see her money returned, and now living with her elderly Mum, Rebekah, was left claiming Universal Credit to get by.

She managed to pick herself up and found another job, but when she suffered an accident at work, alongside the distress of her dog dying and losing her life’s savings, she was overwhelmed and had a breakdown.

“I just lost the plot. I just felt like I wanted to die. It was awful. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.”

She is now receiving regular counselling and is back to work doing what she loves, working with horses, and is waiting for the Ombudsman to assign someone personal to her case which can take up to four months.

“I feel I’m in limbo and I can’t move on properly with how to deal with the rest of my life. When you get to 53 and you think you have savings in the bank for your pension and then you don’t have it, it does make a difference to how you look at the rest of your life.”

In the space of two months, Rebekah’s life savings had vanished. Taken by a man she’d never met, at a difficult time in her life when her judgement was most compromised. Since learning of the scam, Rebekah has been contacted by scammers with offers to help her get her money back, leaving her outraged by the lengths people will go when they know someone is vulnerable.

“How he could be that friendly, knowing how vulnerable I was. He knew I was ill and he just got me where he wanted me.” 

For advice on scams and how to stay aware of them, visit Citizens Advice and get help here.