The Hackers Who Led a Young Woman to Her Death

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For BuzzFeed, reporters Joe Bernstein and Davey Alba tell the story of Tomi Masters, an ambitious, caring 23-year-old who moved from Indiana to California to establish herself in the cannabis industry. After she crossed paths with a lying internet criminal on Snapchat, she found herself in the Philippines in a shady underworld of bitcoin, fake online personalities, and toxic masculinity, far from the cannabis trade. While her life unraveled, her family and friends struggled to make sense of what was happening on and off screen. They still are.

Early in the morning of Sept. 4, 2018, Woody and Masters told friends at the time, a man broke into the apartment while they were there. According to three people who talked to Woody and Masters after the robbery, the couple said that the intruder held them at gunpoint while he stole Woody’s watches, phone, and computer. Woody told Taylor he was convinced that the assailant was after his cryptowallet, which was protected with an encrypted password; without it, there was no way to access the money. Still, he and Masters were terrified — whoever it was might come back and demand the password.

It’s unclear who stuck up Woody. Masters told a close friend from the dispensary that the thief had claimed to be an FBI agent, that he had acted bizarrely, and that she thought the robbery might have been staged. Taylor said he thought the intruder could have been any of the people to whom Woody bragged about his bitcoin. That left a lot of people for Woody to suspect. Woody filed a police report at 3 a.m. the morning of the robbery, but the incident summary offered by the LAPD is light on specifics and lists an address other than Taylor’s. It’s unclear if police even investigated.

“They were very scared,” the dispensary friend said.

It was then that Masters wanted to buy a gun. When Sean DeGroff, her boss from the dispensary, found out, he texted her saying how worried he was. Masters finally called him.

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