My online investment nightmare and how to avoid it


James Deakin

By late August, I had almost doubled my modest investment in crypto on an exchange called Binance, while my eToro had lost about a hundred dollars during around the same amount of time. Now I know that four months is not a long enough time to judge the stock market, and I did eventually turn a very modest profit in the end, but after seeing how the Feds wouldn’t stop printing money and debasing their currency, plus the taper tantrums that Wall Street throw every time they stop receiving that free money, it seemed silly to keep my equity tied up in there. Also, considering that it was all charged to my credit card and tuition and other big bills started piling up and income was going down, we decided to just cash out and maybe revisit it another time. And that’s when the nightmare began.

Seems eToro has no issue taking your money. They charged my credit card like a wounded bull when we were buying the stock, but once it came time to withdraw, however, that’s when the real pain began. All of a sudden, everything became a problem. It felt like the classic bait and switch.

I waited four to five days and nothing. So I wrote to eToro every day, sometimes twice a day. I soon learned it takes them an average of three days to answer any question, which they always answer with another question, which adds another three days, then another, without actually answering anything.

They eventually wrote back and said they blocked my credit card because they found out my son also has access to the account and a father and a son cannot share an account. I was like, huh? Didn’t seem like that was a problem when I opened it. But they smugly reminded me that it is stated in their terms and conditions, so I was being punished for that.

No other explanation given other than that except that the withdrawal was still under review. I spoke to three customer service agents from three different countries and they all gave me the same condescending lecture about sharing an account with my son.  I said, “Yes, we’ve established that, but we also established that the source of funding is mine and it's also the same method being used to receive the withdrawal. So just give my money back and we can close the account. Problem solved.”

They then said I had to send a selfie holding up my ID like a criminal and then show them all my screenshots of my PayPal account, with my email address and other details. This was after I had already verified my identity three times with their customer service officers. But I complied anyway. And then waited. And waited. And waited.

After a couple of days of no reversals, I woke up one morning and checked my eToro portfolio where I could at least see my pending balance, and to my absolute horror, there was nothing left in there either. So much empty. It was totally wiped out. 0.00 balance. All my money gone and not a single word from eToro. I checked my credit card and PayPal and email and that was also empty – or in the case of my credit card, a lot of debt.

It took four days for someone to finally speak to me. That’s four days of unanswered emails and messages; four days of not knowing where the hell your money is, what to do, or any assurance that you’ll ever get it back; basically, four days of pure torment and agony. And now I needed to pay interest on that credit card debt.

Long story short, it turned out that they transferred the money into some sort of escrow account without informing me, but as of this writing, and only after I posted something on Twitter and Facebook,  was I finally contacted by one of the senior client facing managers from their SEA regional offices and the money eventually returned back to my credit card after another three days.

So that’s my experience and outcome in a nutshell. I really hate having to go public with things like this, but I only did so after I felt I had already exhausted all channels internally and also because I felt an obligation to warn new investors about the process and pitfalls. Because as I mentioned, while the money was eventually returned, it took two weeks and some social media pressure. And anyone that has ever lost money will know that two weeks in that situation is amplified; it felt more like a decade of anxiety compressed into 14 days. So I’ll leave you with some advice should you be looking into investing in any platform online, especially on Toro.

Never share an account. Even with your wife, husband, mom, dad or child.

Use a debit card and not a credit card. The eToro withdrawal rule is that you can only withdraw from the card that you first used to invest in eToro, unless you place a note that you will use another card to receive the funds. They only allow depositing of withdrawn funds to cards that you used. Also, if you use a credit card, just know that the money will come back as a credit card refund and not as cash into your bank. So plan for that.

Make sure that the card you are using is named after you and not a joint account. Also, understand that withdrawals are usually three days processing with eToro and another 5-20 days with the Philippine bank depending on what bank you use.

Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, make small withdrawals so you can test the withdrawal process and how long it will usually take so you know the process in the future withdrawals and you can anticipate the speed of the payout

So there. I hope this has helped new investors out there and given eToro a few tips on how to grab the bull by the horns and win back the confidence of those still looking at getting into this space.