CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Investments gone bad. Jim Wilkerson of Cary is out more than $750,000 after he thought he found a great investment opportunity.
He's sharing his story hoping to prevent others from his financial heartbreak.
"You feel pretty ashamed of yourself when something like this happens," Wilkerson said to Troubleshooter Diane Wilson.
This whole things started when Wilkerson was contacted on LinkedIn about an investment opportunity.
"This person said, well, you know, those gold futures -- and I did some reading up on it -- are risky, but it's a very high return. So, OK, I'll take a shot, it can't hurt," he recalled.
How it worked was Wilkerson took his money, transferred it to a legitimate crypto trading platform, and then said he invested it into the online trading company Sundell-fx.
"The return was like 21% to 24%. I mean when you start seeing the money and the fact that it was, I was actually able to pull money out: Ok, this seems really for real."
Since he was able to pull out his earnings, he thought it was safe to keep investing, and at first, his earnings grew as he said his portfolio at one point was over $4 million. However, things took a turn when he tried another time to pull some of his money out.
"When I tried to pull the money out that last time, they came up and said, 'oh, well, your account has been flagged: possible money laundering.'"
He got messages online from a Sundell representative claiming the process would take one to three days to work out, but days later he got a new message.
"That's when I knew I'd been had, they said you have to transfer an amount of 10% of what your balance is to this address. We verify it, transfer it back to you, and then release your funds," he added.
When Wilkerson didn't pay, all of the money just disappeared completely out of the account, he was left with a zero balance.
"Total was approximately $790,000. That was my money out of my pocket. The combination of savings, the stock's sales, the 401K that I took out of my 401K to invest in it."
Wilkerson is not alone, the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions issued an alert about Sundell-fx. The company's website is now shut down.
In 2022, FBI data shows victims reported losing $3.3 billion in investment scams.
Wilkerson reported what happened to authorities. He knows his money is long gone, but he is sharing his story to warn others.
"Any type of a business proposition that really seems too good to be true, it's probably because it really is exactly that: too good to be true, as it turned out in my case," he said.
The FBI said anyone can be a target and scammers often use social media or networking platforms to get their victims. You need to realize just because they have what appears to be a legitimate website or trading platform, does not mean your money is safe. Transferring your money into crypto is even more risky, as there is very little regulation over that industry.