A victim of a £7million cryptocurrency fraud has pledged to travel 3,000 miles to Scotland to help bring the prime suspect to justice.
Robert Barr, 25, is accused of scamming digital money from millionaire financier Reggie Middleton five years ago when he lived with his mother 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 that led to his financial ruin and he is only now getting back on his feet.
Middleton told the Sunday Mail that the missing digital money – $8.5 million – can be sold for profit like any other stolen money.
It will also have appreciated in value over the past five years, making its 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 don’t know if Mr Barr stole the money or not – I just want it back.
“I’m ready to go to Georgia or even Scotland to get justice and go all the way.”
Cryptocurrency is a form of virtual currency that can be used in financial transactions over the Internet.
The Barr case was investigated by the FBI, the New York Police Department and the US Department of Homeland Security.
He allegedly transferred the stolen digital money to his own cryptocurrency account.
Georgia prosecutors say Barr worked with two other people in an elaborate scam known as “SIM swapping.” This is where scammers trick mobile phone companies into handing over customers’ SIM card details so they can hack into cryptocurrency accounts or wallets.
Middleton, who described himself as an investor and philanthropist, said he prevented even more from being caught in the hack.
He added: “I caught anybody as they were doing it, 30 minutes into it.
“I did not lose all my money but a large sum.
“It was a very big loss financially and professionally. My business went bankrupt after years of hard work. But I’m bouncing back.”
A father of three, Middleton designed and holds a patent that powers most types of cryptocurrency.
He is not surprised that one of the defendants comes from a small town in Scotland.
He added: “At this time, geographical borders don’t matter. You could be near my house or in Japan.
Middleton is also suing phone company T-Mobile for his loss.
Barr faces 20 years in prison if extradited to the United States and convicted. He is wanted on a total of eight counts, including wire fraud, money laundering and identity theft, and is expected to face an extradition hearing at Edinburgh Sheriff’s Court in November.
The frauds involving Barr allegedly took place in May and July 2017 when he was just 20 years old.
The Scotsman 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 making a request to Police Scotland in America.
He appeared in Edinburgh Sheriff’s Court and was remanded in custody ahead of the formal start of extradition proceedings in April last year.
The case continued until October when he was released on bail at his mother’s home in Kilbirnie, Ayrshire.
In April, his defense team failed in an attempt at Edinburgh Sheriff Court to have the arrest warrant quashed.
The case was previously investigated by a grand jury in Georgia in 2020 when the charges against him were established.
In 2016 Barr was found guilty of wasting police time over a prank that saw emergency services dispatched to a house in Monifieth, Angus, in July 2014, believing he was being threatened with a knife.
Rangers fan Barr has also been convicted for his role in the violence and disorder that marred the end of the Scottish Cup final between Hibs and Rangers in May 2016 when fans ran onto the ground.
A Crown Office spokesman said the extradition case against Barr was ongoing.
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