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Fiona Simmons September 22, 2020 3 min read
Scammer Plays Two Poker Players, Takes Home $20,000
An elaborate scheme by a scammer led to $20,000 lost money. Users nicknamed Grazvydas and James Romero became a victim of the classic “man in the middle” scam.
An Exchange That Turned Out a Scam
Last week, according to a topic on the poker forum Two Plus Two, two professional poker players were victims of a scam. Users nicknamed Grazvydas and James Romero became unsuspecting victims in an elaborate scam which led to losses by Grazvydas of some $20,000 from his Americas Cardroom account. But how did this happen? The two users initially shared that they are interested in trading account money for Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies.
Grazvydas shared in a Skype group named “Crypto/Fiat Highstakes Exchange” that he intends on exchanging some $20,000 from his PokerStars and/or Americas Cardroom account money for Natural8 currency. Another user in the same Skype chat group, James Romero also shared his intend on exchanging some $5,000 or more out of his $60,000 Luxon e-wallet to Bitcoin.
Upon seeing the messages in the Skype group by the two users, a scammer saw the opportunity to disrupt the deal and benefit. To achieve this, the scammer created fake profiles of both Grazvydas and James Romero. In an effort to reduce the possibility of the users realizing the scam, the scammer created almost identical clone Skype accounts.
The Classic “Man in the Middle” Scheme
Grazvydas agreed to transfer $20,000 of his own Americas Cardroom money to James Romero and in exchange to receive $20,000 worth of Bitcoin. And while this sounds like a fair trade, what the players didn’t know is that they were actually both communicating with the scammer and not with each other.
Upon communicating with Romero, the scammer obtained his real poker account where the money needed to be sent by Grazyvdas. As a result, Grazvydas transferred $20,000 to the real Americas Cardroom account, owned by Romero. When Romero saw the transaction, he transferred his $20,000 in Bitcoin to the account which he thought was owned by Grazvydas, when in reality it was the scammer’s account.
In other words, instead of the two players trading equal value of money with each other, one of them received the money, while the other sent his funds to the scammer. This is the classic “man in the middle” scam, which the scammer executed perfectly.
Upon realizing what happened, Grazvydas went on the Two Plus Two forum and revealed the scheme. Comments under the forum topic differ as to which player was at fault. But looking objectively, we can honestly say that both Grazvydas and James Romero were a victim of the scammer’s elaborate plan. According to the post by Grazvydas, the two scammed players decided to close this matter with Grazvydas receiving $10,000 from James Romero as a way to “split the loss”.