After Susie lost her job as a casual nurse – her husband tried to turn the family’s financial woes around by signing up for a Bitcoin scheme… that quickly backfired.
*Peter barely flinched when his phone started loudly ringing in the middle of the night.
After nearly three months of relentless torture, the NSW father knew exactly who was on the other end of the line.
Sure enough, as he reached for the ringing phone, Peter spotted yet-another random string of numbers staring back at him.
As Peter wearily turned the phone to silent, his wife *Susie wondered how much more of this they could take.
At this point, she had no idea what else they could do to stop these unrelenting calls from pouring in.
Lying there in bed, Susie found herself wishing more than anything that Peter had never clicked on the link that had started this whole mess.
Want to join the family? Sign up to our Kidspot newsletter for more stories like this
Just a few of the many emails the scammers have sent to Peter. Source: Supplied to Kidspot
“That’s why he clicked…”
But as much as Susie wished Peter had never clicked on that fateful link – she couldn’t help feeling like it was all her fault.
She doesn’t think Peter would have clicked on a link offering a get-rich-quick scheme if Susie hadn’t lost her job at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I know that our income was a worry to him – so that’s why he clicked,” the NSW mum-of-three tells Kidspot.
“I’m a casual nurse and unlike everyone wants to believe, there was no work for casual staff in hospitals when the pandemic started.
“They were preparing for the worst so I lost my job.”
To make matters worse, Susie discovered that she wasn’t eligible for any government support – leaving the young family to rely on Peter’s income to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads.
“It was a scam”
The sudden loss of income was obviously a source of massive stress for both Susie and Peter.
It was during that time that Peter came across an article that spoke about a mining magnate that had made thousands using the online cryptocurrency, Bitcoin.
At the bottom of the article there was a link to click for more information.
Peter clicked it and was immediately contacted by someone asking if he would be interested in signing up for the scheme – all he needed to do was send $400 as an initial investment.
At this point Peter did ask Susie if it was OK if he signed up.
“I agreed he could do it. It was ‘only’ $400 if it went pear-shaped and we’d be rich if it wasn’t,” Susie says.
“But then I googled it… and I found the same article with different celebrities’ faces. It was a scam.”
The scammers beg Peter to send them more money and to continue with the scheme. Source: Supplied to Kidspot
“It was too late”
Her heart pounding in her chest, Susie immediately called the bank to cancel Peter’s credit card before the the $400 charge went through.
Although she was quick enough to cancel the card before the money was taken out – she couldn’t do anything about the other details Peter had provided to the scheme.
Almost immediately, phone calls and emails started flooding in begging him to send more money and trying to trick him into providing more details.
This continued for weeks, with Peter receiving at least 20 calls and over 30 emails every single day.
Unfortunately, Peter’s phone number and email address were linked to his job, so they couldn’t be changed.
Blocking the numbers and email addresses didn’t work either – the scammers just found a new number or address to contact Peter with.
“The worst feeling in the world”
But things went from bad to worse when Peter decided to call back one of the phone numbers that had been harassing them.
An old lady answered – who had no idea what Peter was talking about when he mentioned Bitcoin.
It was at that point that it became clear that the scammers had also stolen the phone numbers they were using to call Peter.
“The old lady was so worried my husband was stealing her number and using it to scam – she didn’t understand that it had already happened,” Susie says.
“Now my husband is so stressed that someone will steal his identity and use it in the same way.
“The worst feeling in the world was realising that it didn’t matter that we had realised it was a scam quickly – we still have no way of stopping them.”
*Names have been changed