Bitcoin minefield hack

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Watchdogs say you may lose everything so who do YOU believe? Close your eyes,’ says a glamorous woman wearing a sparkly jacket and a smart black dress. In front of her, 30 people look around awkwardly as she affects a soothing tone. British Virgin Islands and had a private appointment with Richard Branson because you have similar investments.

You flew there in your own private jet and you’re hiring a boat to Miami. Pictures of a cruise ship, a white town house and sports car pop up on a screen behind her. Lilia Severina, pictured, praises the benefits of Bitcoin in a posh conference room in a Central London hotel. These are just some of the basic toys that would be very accessible as a result of a not very high investment’, she says, flicking her hand towards the images.

It’s the sort of luxury we’ve all secretly dreamt about — and apparently attaining it is oh-so-simple: just invest in Bitcoin. The lure of making big bucks with barely any effort explains why so many people have poured into this posh conference room in a Central London hotel on a cold Wednesday evening. The advert claims investors could double their money every three months. It sounds too good to be true, but the event host, Lilia Severina, says it isn’t. Some people in this room will be multi-millionaires in a very short period of time,’ she says.

According to Lilia, pictured, Bitcoin is the next big opportunity that could make the people sitting in this room multi-millionaires. It’s been impossible to escape news of the dramatic rise of Bitcoin over the past year. The virtual currency is being talked about in pubs, hairdressers, at football matches — you don’t have to go far to find someone who fancies a punt. And they’re being spurred on by talk of lucky investors who have made a fortune from this so-called cryptocurrency — everywhere from Silicon Valley to rural Oxfordshire. The City watchdog says Bitcoin is so risky that ordinary savers should be prepared to lose everything if they decide to invest. Some high-profile banking chiefs, meanwhile, have claimed it’s a Ponzi scheme.

So Money Mail has gone undercover to find out what the people who run Bitcoin seminars are telling savers about the risky investing craze that has got everybody talking. Could this simple trader’s tool help you dodge a crash? Are the wheels coming off the cryptocurrency bandwagon? But our investigation reveals grounds for serious concerns about investors being given the impression Bitcoin is a sure-fire lucrative investment with few downsides. When I arrive at the Grafton Hotel, I’m met by Lilia’s assistant, who ticks off my name and shows me to the small conference room. I take a seat in the front row next to three women in their late 40s who are clearly friends and deep in conversation about their busy jobs and children.

Behind me is a young mother in a bright pink jumper who runs out the room to take a video call from her husband and screaming toddler. On the other side of the room is a man in his 50s with a notepad on his lap, two young couples and a group of men in their 20s who look like they might work in finance or IT. There is a projector screen in front of us playing a 90-second video on a loop. It starts with dramatic music, then cuts to a young man giving a glowing review of this seminar. Just when I think I’m going to scream if I hear it again, Lilia puts on a different video showing American news presenters interviewing the likes of Bill Gates and Richard Branson about Bitcoin.

Finally, the videos end and Lilia approaches the podium to introduce herself. She says she’s been in the financial technology industry for more than 20 years and advises companies about launching their own virtual currencies — known as an initial coin offering, or ICO. She also lectures at universities, presents at conferences globally and is a mentor for The Prince’s Trust, she says. Lilia is also chief executive of the firm holding this seminar — UGlobal Growth. We promise you that working with us will open a large number of opportunities in front of your eyes.

We will guide you on how to capture them and how to scale your success. All you have to do is take action. According to Lilia, Bitcoin is the next big opportunity that could make the people sitting in this room multi-millionaires. Bitcoin, she says, listing politicians such as Al Gore Jr, who served as vice-president to Bill Clinton.

It’s an impressive pitch — at least on the surface. Bitcoin is an entirely digital currency. The idea, Lilia says, is to have one currency that is available to everyone in the world, regardless of their background or where they live. Billions of people across the globe don’t have a bank account or access to credit, but virtual currency could change this, she explains. In five years from now, the whole banking system will be transformed,’ she says.

You have no choice but to be in it. Everybody is in it now, but the ones who got in it early are multi-millionaires and they are not in this room. Why experts have warned on bitcoin Bitcoin is one of many cryptocurrencies, which exist only in cyberspace. You can exchange it via computers to pay for things, or trade it for hard cash. One of the reasons for its popularity is that it is not controlled by major banks or central governments. This means you don’t need to pass a credit or identity check to use it, Lilia says. She claims this could help people buy a house in the future as they would not need to pass a credit check to borrow money.