Dr. Anders Apgar was out for dinner last month with his family, and his phone would not stop buzzing. It looked like a robocall, so he tried to ignore it.
But the calls would not stop. Then his wife’s phone also started to ring.
“When she picks it up, a banner came across, a notification that says, ‘Your account’s in jeopardy,’” he said.
The warning, which he said was a text message, prompted him to pick up his phone. That was when the couple’s nightmare started.
It’s the kind of nightmare many crypto account holders around the country are facing as hackers target a boom in the industry, cybersecurity experts said.
The Apgars, who are both Maryland-based obstetricians, began investing in cryptocurrency several years ago. By December, their account had grown to about $106,000, mainly held in bitcoin. Like millions of investors across the country, their account is with Coinbase, the country’s largest cryptocurrency platform.
When Apgar picked up the phone, a female voice said, “Hello, welcome to Coinbase security prevention line. We have detected unauthorized activity due to failed log-in attempt on your account. This was requested from a Canada IP address. If this (is) not you, please press 1, to complete precautions recovering your account.” The call lasted just 19 seconds.
Alarmed, Apgar pressed 1.
He said he cannot remember if he manually entered his two-factor authentication code or if it came up automatically on his screen. But what happened in that moment led to his account being locked in less than two minutes. As Apgar has not regained access, he said he assumes the fraudsters stole most if not all of the crypto, but he can’t be sure.
“It was just dread and an emptiness of just, ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t get this back,’” he said.