A Houston man said he had hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in a cryptocurrency he couldn’t access. Jeff McCollum thought he did his research before investing over $200,000 through an online investment company.
“I feel like I can pretty much lose it all,” Jeff McCollum said. “I’m just going to go back to square one and build from there.”
McCollum appears to have over $420,000 in cryptocurrency available in his account with an online investment company. However, he cannot withdraw any of these funds. McCollum attempted to withdraw $2,000 from the account while speaking with KPRC 2 Investigates and received a message from the company.
“It says, ‘Sorry, your account is currently not available to withdraw funds,'” McCollum said.
McCollum said a friend connected him with a supposed financial advisor who recommended he use this company to invest in cryptocurrency.
“We were both talking about cryptocurrency, we were both investing. We actually did pretty well,” McCollum said.
The company’s website looks legit on the face of it, and McCollum said he saw his initial investments pay off.
“On the website, it showed how much I was earning each day,” McCollum said.
McCollum said when he tried to withdraw his money, he was suddenly told he had to pay personal income tax.
“As soon as it happened, I knew something was wrong,” he said. “I had borrowed from my mother’s pension. I had borrowed from my own 401k.
McCollum showed KPRC 2 weeks of SMS and WhatsApp messages with the company and the financial adviser who recommended the site. However, no resolution was reached.
“I tried to work with them back and forth and everything they said always ended up with the same thing: ‘No, you have to give us money from outside funds,'” McCollum said. “I said you had everything, I have nothing else. I have the shirt on my back, that’s all.
When you take a closer look at the website used by McCollum, you begin to notice poor grammar and the logo looks identical to the Intercontinental Exchange logo; a respected and well-established company that operates global financial exchanges.
When we asked ICE about the use of its logo on the website, McCollum showed us and received the following email response: “ICE has no affiliation with this website or the company that operates it” , wrote a spokesperson.
“At this point, I honestly don’t believe I’m going to get anything back,” McCollum said.
KPRC 2 Investigates also attempted to contact the operators of the website used by McCollum and received no response.
RIA Financial Director of Financial Planning, Richard Rosso, said investing in cryptocurrency requires caution.
“I always say stick with the big boys if you want to watch crypto,” Rosso said.
Rosso said he only invests in cryptocurrency with an established history and asks well-known investment firms for advice on which currency is reputable. He said that almost anyone can create a coin and promise big returns.
“It’s very easy to promise yourself that I’m going to double your money if I create money,” Rosso said.
When it comes to websites like the one used by McCollum for investing, you have to look closely.
“Look for misspellings, look for bad grammar, sentences that seem fragmented,” Rosso said.
Rosso cautions when viewing a potential investment website, do not use your phone as the mobile version may look very different from the full website. He also suggests running all crypto investment opportunities in front of another person, especially when using a website you don’t know. He said many people get caught up in the fanfare surrounding cryptocurrency and miss the warning signs.
“There’s this romantic idea around it that it’s going to replace the dollar. It’s the best thing to do,” Rosso said.
A look at KPRC 2 Investigates past cryptocurrency stories:
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