A LAIRD who lost £130,000 in an alleged cryptocurrency scam has said he may have to sell off parts of his estate - including Scotland's most northerly nudist beach.

Michael Dudgeon warned that he may lose his entire estate after taking up a "too good to be true" offer.

The 71-year-old got involved in the crypto market to help pay off bills at his 400-acre Crakaig Estate in Sutherland.

After seeing an ad promising big returns, Dudgeon put almost £100,000 in cash and investments into cryptocurrency and oil price leverage.

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After his portfolio had apparently risen to more than £400,000 the laird attempted to take his money out.

It was at this point he said he was told by a cryptocurrency trader who was managing his money that he would have to pay £34,000 in early exit fees to Coinbase, a digital currency exchange, who had his money.

After paying that, he was then asked for a further £18,000 for “capital gains tax”. By that point, the businessman said he got suspicious and ran out of money.

Dudgeon said: “I could lose the whole estate, but certainly may have to sell off parts of it. It has been in my family for over 150 years.

“I only invested to help pay the running costs. I put in my savings, everything I had. It started off with £500 and that was said to have increased ten times in a short time. I got reeled in.

The National: The Laird was hoping the cryptocurrency investment would help pay the bills on his large Sutherland estateThe Laird was hoping the cryptocurrency investment would help pay the bills on his large Sutherland estate

“I invested more and more, but it was when the broker talked me into the stock market and an oil-leverage scheme on the back of the Ukrainian crisis that I wanted out.

"The leverage was based on oil reaching $120 a barrel, and I thought there was no way that will happen.

"I asked for my money back, but they kept switching me between companies that would pay out. Eventually they said Coinbase had my wallet and it was worth £402,000.”

Dudgeon said that he had to deal with people who claimed to be from Blockchain.com, a cryptocurrency financial services company.

He continued: “I wanted my money back, but somebody saying they were from Blockchain said I needed to pay Coinbase an early-exit penalty of £34,000 first, which I did.

“Then those saying they were from Blockchain came back again with a demand for £18,000 of capital gains tax, which had to be paid to Coinbase for my money to be released.

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“I paid £4000 of that and ran out of money. A guy who said he was in Switzerland and represented Blockchain kept calling daily to demand the rest of the money.

A Coinbase spokesperson said: “Be sceptical of websites or services promising high returns or unrealistic investment opportunities. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.”

A Blockchain.com spokesperson said: “We do not have a record of a customer by that name [Michael Dudgeon].

“Unfortunately this appears to be a case of someone impersonating our company.

"The Blockchain.com support team and other employees will never initiate contact via phone, ask for a fee to access your funds, ask for your password or back-up phrase, or access to your wallet.”