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'A very big night'

A few days later, Foster claims James told her that “a very big night” was coming.

“He convinced me to put in even more money, so I put £2,000 ($2,550) down,” Foster said. “He then said he had been in touch with his uncle who had told him there was a once-in-a-century deal about to go down and I could make 800% profit.”

She decided to empty her savings into the crypto account, totaling £3,500 ($4,450), in hopes of seizing the opportunity. She then says she was added to a WhatsApp group with a man who claimed to be James’s uncle and another individual. Foster recalled that they executed a trade, which appeared to result in a substantial profit of $86,000 (£67,000) in her trading account.

However, when Foster checked the account herself, she says it indicated that she had exceeded the allowable amount before her funds suddenly dropped to zero.

“I then contacted customer services, who said I owed them 20% tax to a New York bank account totaling £20,000 ($25,500).”

She added: “I then talked to my ex-partner and he gave me a reality check. I realized I had literally fallen for a textbook crypto scam.”

Other than the first £80, Foster says none of the profits from the trades ever reached her. In the end, she lost £6,000 ($7,600).

She confronted James about the scam, only to be met with a cruel response telling her to “go and die quickly.” Afterward, James unmatched her on Tinder and disappeared.

The experience left Foster feeling devastated.

“It was my whole life savings, which I inherited off my grandad — it's left me totally distraught,” she said. “'I feel stupid, I feel ridiculous — I can't believe I'm one of these women I read about in magazines.”

Foster’s experience serves as a stark reminder of the dangers that can lurk in the world of online dating and investing. However, the high-return potential of cryptocurrencies continues to attract investors. For instance, Bitcoin, the world's most prominent cryptocurrency, skyrocketed 154% in 2023 and is up another 56% in 2024.

Fortunately, you don't have to entrust your funds to a stranger to participate in this market. Here’s a look at three ways to safely gain exposure to crypto.

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Buy crypto and store it in a secure way

The first option is the most straightforward: If you want to buy crypto, just buy crypto.

These days, many platforms allow individual investors to buy and sell crypto. Just be aware that some exchanges charge up to 4% commission fees for each transaction. So look for apps that charge low or even no commissions.

While Bitcoin currently commands a price in excess of $68,000, there’s no need to buy a whole coin. Most exchanges allow you to start with as much money as you are willing to spend.

After purchasing crypto from a reputable exchange platform, experts recommend transferring your assets to a hardware wallet or a non-custodial software wallet for added security and control. A hardware wallet, being a physical device, stores your crypto offline, protecting it from online hacking threats. Meanwhile, a non-custodial software wallet gives you complete control over your private keys, while still offering the convenience of digital access.

Crypto ETFs

Exchange-traded funds have risen in popularity in recent years. They trade on stock exchanges, so buying and selling them is very convenient. And now investors can use them to get a piece of the crypto action, too.

For instance, BlackRock’s iShares Bitcoin Trust (IBIT) is an ETF that invests directly in Bitcoin, enabling investors to access the cryptocurrency through a traditional brokerage account.

Investors might also want to take a look at similar options like the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust ETF (GBTC) and the Fidelity Wise Origin Bitcoin Fund (FBTC), both of which provide ways for gaining exposure to Bitcoin within established financial frameworks.

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Crypto stocks

When companies tie some of their growth to the crypto market, their shares can often move in tandem with the coins.

First, there are crypto miners. The computing power doesn’t come cheap and energy costs can be substantial. But if the price of Bitcoin goes up, crypto mining stocks are likely to receive increased attention from investors.

Then there are intermediaries like Coinbase Global (COIN). When more people buy, sell and use crypto, these platforms stand to benefit.

Finally, there are companies that simply hold a lot of crypto on their balance sheets.

Case in point: enterprise software technologist MicroStrategy (MSTR). The company’s bitcoin count reached 214,400 as of Apr. 26, 2024, a stockpile worth approximately $14.6 billion at the current price.

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Jing Pan Investment Reporter

Jing is an investment reporter for MoneyWise. He is an avid advocate of investing for passive income. Despite the ups and downs he’s been through with the markets, Jing believes that you can generate a steadily increasing income stream by investing in high quality companies.

Disclaimer

The content provided on Moneywise is information to help users become financially literate. It is neither tax nor legal advice, is not intended to be relied upon as a forecast, research or investment advice, and is not a recommendation, offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities or to adopt any investment strategy. Tax, investment and all other decisions should be made, as appropriate, only with guidance from a qualified professional. We make no representation or warranty of any kind, either express or implied, with respect to the data provided, the timeliness thereof, the results to be obtained by the use thereof or any other matter.