A TEACHER broke down in tears after losing her house deposit in a fake 'Elon Musk' Bitcoin scam.
Julie Bushnell said she felt ashamed and embarrassed after falling victim to the cryptocurrency con that cost her £9,000.
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The scam was posted on a fraudulent website made to look like the BBC.
It used the name of entrepreneur billionaire Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk to suggest she could double her money in a Bitcoin giveaway.
Julie, from Brighton, East Sussex, forked out $12,650 (£9,007) which she had saved for a deposit on her first home.
But when no reciprocal payment was made, she realised she had become the victim of a scam and immediately tried to disable her bank account.
Unfortunately it was too late and there is now no way for Julie to get her money back.
She told The Argus she wishes she could go back in a "time machine" and undo the error that cost her thousands.
"I stayed up all night searching the internet of ways in which I could get this money back," she said.
"I tried to sleep but couldn't as I was having constant panic attacks and couldn't stop shaking and crying.
"This whole ordeal has left me feeling totally and utterly depressed and emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted.
"I can’t eat or sleep properly and I keep crying while at work and running off to the toilets during the day and breaking down in floods of tears feeling ashamed and embarrassed of what has happened."
Julie reported what happened to her bank, but was told they couldn't help.
She also contacted Sussex Police and Action Fraud who both took details of what had happened and complied reports which have been sent to the national fraud intelligence bureau.
The school teacher is now warning others not to make the same mistake.
WHAT IS BITCOIN AND IS IT SAFE?
Bitcoin is a virtual currency that was created in 2009 by an unknown computer whizz using the alias Satoshi Nakamoto.
Unlike physical currencies such as pounds, dollars or euros, which come in physical notes and coins, Bitcoin isn't printed or minted.
Instead, Bitcoin tokens are a digital-only form of payment and are created by a computer code.
If you have invested in Bitcoin, you can set up a virtual wallet to store, keep track and spend your digital money.
You are also able to purchase Bitcoin through an online exchange or Bitcoin ATM – but not all businesses accept Bitcoin as a form of payment.
Anyone thinking of investing in Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency should be very careful.
Their values are incredibly unpredictable, with the ability to plummet as quickly as they shoot up.
Like with all cryptocurrencies, this means if you choose to invest in Bitcoin, you can lose your money if the value of it drops.
She said: "I want to raise awareness of this scam so it doesn’t happen to other vulnerable people, otherwise they will end up like me, feeling embarrassed, worthless, helpless and psychologically robbed and abused.
"These scammers have robbed me of my deposit for my mortgage, our future home for my family.
"They have robbed me of my dignity, self respect, self worth and strength, they have sucked all the goodness of life out of me.
"I feel utterly depressed and I don’t know where to turn or how I will get past this horrific situation."
The BBC said it was taking action to have the site closed down, with a statement adding: "We urge people to check the veracity of [websites] and not to supply any personal information."
This isn't the first time Musk's name has been brought into a cryptocurrency scam.
In March a man claimed he lost £400,000 ($560,000) to a Bitcoin scam after he clicked on a link underneath a tweet by Elon Musk.
And in July 2020, scammers hacked the accounts of Musk, Bill Gates, Kim Kardashian and other big names in an attempt to get people to give away Bitcoin.
You should always be wary of website links you've not seen before and never give personal information or money away online unless you're 100% certain it's not a scam.
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