A victim of a £7million cryptocurrency fraud has vowed to fly 3000 miles to Scotland to help bring the prime suspect to trial.
Robert Barr, 25, is charged with scamming digital cash from millionaire financier Reggie Middleton five years ago while living with his mum at the family home in Ayrshire.
The 54-year-old New York-based cryptocurrency dealer said the theft in 2017 set off a chain of events which led to his financial ruin and he is only now getting back on his feet.
Middleton told the Sunday Mail that the missing digital cash – $8.5million – can be sold on for profit just like any other stolen money.
It will also have increased in value in the last five years, making his loss even greater.
Last month we revealed how US authorities are seeking Barr’s extradition to stand trial in Georgia.
Middleton said: “I was shocked by what happened to me. I do not know if Mr Barr stole the money or not – I just want it back.
“I am prepared to go to Georgia or even Scotland to get justice and see this through.”
Cryptocurrency is a form of virtual money that can be used in financial transactions over the internet.
The Barr case was investigated by the FBI, New York Police Department and US Department of Homeland Security.
He is alleged to have transferred the stolen digital money into his own cryptocurrency account.
Prosecutors in Georgia claim Barr worked with two others in an elaborate con known as “SIM swapping”. This is where fraudsters dupe mobile phone firms into handing over details of customers’ SIM cards so they can hack into cryptocurrency accounts or wallets.
Middleton, who described himself as an investor and philanthropist, claimed he prevented even more being taken in the hack.
He added: “I caught whoever it was as they were doing it, 30 minutes after it started.
“I did not lose all my money but a large amount.
“It’s been a very big loss financially and professionally. My company was essentially put out of business after years of hard work. But I am bouncing back.”
Dad-of-three Middleton devised and owns a patent which makes most types of cryptocurrency work.
He is not surprised that one of the accused comes from a small town in Scotland.
He added: “In this age, geographical borders do not matter. You could be next door to me or in Japan.”
Middleton is also suing phone firm T-Mobile over his loss.
Barr is facing up 20 years in jail if extradited to the US and convicted. He is wanted on a total of eight charges that include wire fraud, money laundering and identity theft and he looks set to face an extradition hearing at Edinburgh Sheriff Court in November.
The frauds involving Barr are said to have taken place in May and July 2017 when he was only 20.
The Scot and another man are also accused of using the same scam to steal £485,000 in cryptocurrency from a woman. Barr was arrested in February last year after a request to Scottish police from America.
He appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court and was remanded in custody before extradition proceedings were formally started in April last year.
The case was continued to October when he was given bail to the home of his mum in Kilbirnie, Ayrshire.
In April his defence team failed in a bid at Edinburgh Sheriff Court to have the arrest warrant thrown out.
The case has already been investigated by a grand jury in Georgia in 2020 when the charges against him were drawn up.
In 2016 Barr was convicted of wasting police time for a hoax that saw the emergency services sent to a house in Monifieth, Angus, in July 2014 believing he was being threatened with a knife.
Rangers fan Barr was also convicted for his part in the violence and disorder that marred the end of the Scottish Cup final between Hibs and Rangers in May 2016 when fans ran on to the pitch.
A Crown Office spokesperson said the extradition case against Barr was ongoing.
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