An elaborate scheme by a sneaky scammer costed two unsuspecting poker players a total of $20,000 online. Users going by the names Grazvydas and James Romero became victims of the classic scam "man in the middle".
A normal scenario in the online world that ended very badly
Two high stakes poker players recently became victims of a scam, and last week it was made known on the poker forum Two Plus Two, when user Grazvydas asked the community if he's responsible for this unfortunate incident.
He and James Romero became unlikely victims of a scam that costed Grazvydas $20,000 from his Americas Cardroom account. Both of them initially said that they are interested in exchanging account money for Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies.
In a group named "Crypto/Fiat Highstakes Exchange" on Skype, Grazvydas announced he wanted to exchange some $20,000 from his Americas Cardroom and/or PokerStars account money for Natural8 currency. James Romero, who was also in the same Skype chat group, shared his intention of exchanging some $5,000 or more from his $60,000 Luxon e-wallet to Bitcoin currency.
As he (let's just assume the scammer is male but we could be wrong) saw the messages in the Skype group by these two users, the crafty scammer saw the chance to dupe the two and benefit from them. To do so, he created fake profiles of both Grazvydas and James Romero. To make things look more legit, he created almost similar clone Skype accounts of the two.
The Oldie but Goodie "Man in the Middle" Scheme
Grazvydas agreed to transfer $20,000 of his own Americas Cardroom money to James Romero, in exchange for $20,000 worth of Bitcoin. While this deal appears like a fair trade, what the two didn't know was that they were actually both talking and transacting with the scammer.
As he conversed with Romero, the scammer acquired his real poker account where the money should be sent by Grazvydas. After that, Grazvydas transferred $20,000 to the real Americas Cardroom account that Romero owned.
When Romero saw the money come in, he then transferred his $20,000 in Bitcoin to the scammer's account, which he thought was owned by Grazvydas.
Simply put, the two players just wanted to trade an equal sum of money with each other online - Bitcoin for poker funds. While one of them really received the money, the other unfortunately sent the funds to the scammer. It's called the "man in the middle" scam, and the scammer successfully pulled it off.
When he realized he had been duped, Grazvydas aired his thoughts on the Two Plus Two forum about the scheme. Members had differing opinions as to which player was at fault. However, we can all say that both players were a victim of the scammer's devious scheme. In the end, Grazvydas said they decided to put things to rest with Grazvydas receiving $10,000 from James Romero as a way to "split the losses".
Grazvydas' experience in detail
Here's what he posted on the forum:
"This is Grazvydas (Grazvis1) - long time HS online player.
Summary of what have happened:
I posted that I am looking for 20k trade in one of the Skype's trading chats, impersonator of a high volume trader James Romero messaged me that he is interested into trade, I asked for a HV, and I send first under guidance of impersonator.
But the person on the receiving end of me sending 20k on ACR, was real James Romero account, and the impersonator got real James Romero to ask for a legit HV in a trading chat "Thai 20k HV @James Romero with Grazvydas". (James send 20k BTC to impersonator upon receiving funds on ACR).
The reason of this post, is to clarify why I am responsible 100% of liability here, because that's what James Romero claimed, and that's what people participating in the trading chat seemed to agree.
And I don't think the way James Romero communicated after the fact was just. I would like people to judge this too.
My last communication with James Romero was: https://gyazo.com/0d33f8671fd54c1053ba0a009bcf5852
I was questioning what have happened in the Trading chat for 4 hours yes, because I was confused about what exactly have happened, as a HV for James Romero was a legit HV, which real James Romero asked. There was never an arbitrary decision, or anything like that, the few people that communicated in the Trading chat did seemed to take James' side.
James' message "and then you deleted a bunch of content from the conversation" is a 100% lie, I did not deleted 1 message from any conversation, I immediately posted a screen shot of that James' message in the trading chat to call him out.
I think it's only fair if people are informed of this, as this does show the person's character, and he is a high volume trader.
And to judge the way impersonator of James managed to scam here, and if it's me who is 100% responsible here, or there's a part of responsibility on James' side too:
Sequence of events:
1) I posted in a trading chat on Skype called "Crypto/Fiat Highstakes Exchange" that I am looking for a trade.
2) James Romero posted in the same trading chat that he is looking for a trade.
3) A fake James (fJames) and a fake Grazvydas (fGrazvydas) create almost identical clone Skype accounts and message the real ones (rJames and rGrazvydas)
4)fJames and fGrazvydas makes a plan for a trade with rJames and rGrazvydas, where if rJames gets a HV rGrazvydas will send $20k on ACR in return for $20k BTC/NAT8. (fGrazvydas asked 20k BTC for ACR from rJames, fJames promised 20k NAT8 for rGrazvydas' ACR)
5)rJames asks a friend for a HV, friend post HV, upon seeing so rGrazvydas send $20k to rJames.
6)Upon receiving $20k on ACR rJames sends $20k BTC to fGrazvydas.
7)rGrazvydas doesn't get $20k Nat8 and looks into it in more indepth and contacts rJames.
Conversations from trading chat:
Conversation with rJames:
A few points to clarify:
*I messaged ACR support to report theft by impersonation, because at that point I thought that the ACR account I send to was the impersonator/scammer. After realizing the way the scam happened, I thought ACR doesn't need to be involved anymore, and I messaged them back asking to unfreeze rJames account and free the funds to him, which has been done by now.
*In the Skype's trading chat, my initial conversation was trying to get a grasp of what have happened exactly, and me apologizing there is more of an acknowledgement that I understood the way the scam worked, not that I agree I am 100% responsible there. There was never arbitrary judge to rule on this, and I don't think I have been provided a fair explanation why in this situation I would have to take all the responsibility.
Most likely I will try to get an arbitrary judge to rule on this, and to define what responsibility and what kind of due diligence a person should take when he is trying to get a HV. Because that was never answered.
All this happened in last ~7days.