I had an account on Bittrex for a few years so I could dabble a bit in crypto currency. I never had any problems with Bittrex but then again, I did not buy and sell tons of crypto currency either. For what I wanted to do it seemed to work well.
A year or so ago it appears that government regulators were talking about cracking down on crypto currency exchanges and apparently that spooked Bittrex pretty good and they decided to shut down their U.S. operations. All of their customers had to either move their crypto currency elsewhere or sell it off and withdraw the resulting funds.
I took care of clearing my account out quite a while ago and only left $1 or so there since I had no way to sell it or move it due to it being such a small amount. No big deal since it is a trivial amount so I did not worry about it.
Not that long ago I heard that there were some scammers out there attempting to take advantage of Bittrex customers but until recently I had not seen any of them myself. That changed recently when this little gem showed up in my email:
Dear [name redacted],
We wish to inform you that, upon reviewing our financial records, it has come to our attention that your account (removed) with Bittrex is currently holding a balance amounting to $7,308.72. As per our user agreement and in compliance with regulatory standards, we are required to notify you regarding the status of dormant accounts and the need for the withdrawal of funds within a specified time frame.
Please be advised that the deadline for withdrawing these funds is set for November 31st, 2023. We urge you to take prompt action to initiate the withdrawal process and ensure that your funds are transferred to a preferred external account well before the given deadline. This is to avoid any inconvenience or potential disruptions that may arise due to the expiration of the stipulated period for such transactions.
We understand that managing digital assets can be complex, and we are committed to providing you with seamless service. Should you require any assistance in initiating the withdrawal process or if you have any inquiries regarding your account or the disbursement of funds, our customer support team is readily available to assist you at any time.
Additionally, Bittrex offers a range of options for fund withdrawal, catering to various user preferences and requirements. We recommend reviewing these options to determine the most suitable method for your needs. Your timely response to this notice is paramount to facilitate a smooth and successful transfer of your funds.
We appreciate your prompt attention to this matter and look forward to assisting you in securing your assets. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us for any further clarification or support.
The Bittrex Team
What was a little alarming to me, even though I knew it was a scam immediately, was that they addressed me with my full middle name. I never use my full middle name except when it is absolutely required like when getting a driver’s license or something of that sort. I do not doubt I had used it on my Bittrex account since they may well have required it since it had to do with financial transactions so Bittrex having it would not be unexpected.
What I do wonder is how the scammers got hold of it since I use it so rarely. Did they get their hands on some Bittrex customer data? Or perhaps they used one of those online “people finder” sites to look me up. I do not recall any of those providing full middle names but it seems to me that is certainly possible. If they did not get the information from Bittrex customer data they must have taken the trouble to look up additional customer data for each former Bittrex customer they intended to scam.
A few things stood out to me when I opened that email. Firstly, I surely knew I never had anywhere close to $7000 in my Bittrex account so that surely screamed out “SCAM!” Secondly, there were a few subtle hints with the way certain passages were worded that made me think the email was not legitimate. I am not going to go into detail about that since I don’t want to give scammers any tips on how they might better craft their messages but a few things really stood out to me.
These days virtually everything you see regarding your financial accounts or just about anything else that involves money in any way could be a scam. The low-life scammers are continuously upping their game and coming up with new ways to take advantage of innocent people to enrich themselves.
I just recently heard of a new scam in my area where people are going into retail locations and stealing gift cards. They take the cards home and modify them by changing the barcodes or making other modifications. They then return the cards to store shelves where unsuspected customers purchase them and then when they activate them the funds from the gift card are sent to an account the scammer has set up.
Be careful buying gift cards this year! I normally buy one for my nephew every Christmas and now I will probably be sure to purchase it online so I know that it is far less likely to have been tampered with.