Crypto Scammers are using old allure ways of romance to trick people, focused mainly on dating apps. This has been long going, and a total of 56,000 romance scams have been reported to the Federal Trade Commission last year.
Scammed people share their stories
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Niki Hutchinson, 24, a social media producer from Tennessee got scammed last year. She matched with a man named Hao on Hinge who claimed to be working in the clothing business. They shared certain details and talked mostly. When they video chatted once, he only showed her a part of his face and quickly hung up. “I thought he was shy,” she said.
Niki had inherited $300,000 from the sale of her childhood home after the death of her mother. At this information, Hao told her to invest in cryptocurrency. “I want to teach you to invest in cryptocurrency when you are free, bring some changes to your life and bring an extra income to your life.”
Naive, she agreed and started sending small amounts to the wallet address he gave her. When the money appeared on the site, she started sending more. Eventually, she invested her entire savings. Then, sometime in December, when she tried to withdraw, the transaction failed, and the wrongdoing dawned upon Niki. Currently, she is working with local police to track her scammer down. However, she has no hopes of getting her money back, she wants people to be more cautious.
Something similar happened to Tho Vu, 33. She met the man Ze Zhao, as he claimed, through Hinge. After months of texting and airy promises, she developed a serious crush on the man. He had claimed to be in customer service for a security company and advised Vu that she could make money by trading bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
She was intrigued. “I heard a lot about crypto in the news. I’m a curious person, and he actually was very knowledgeable about the whole trading process.” Unfortunately, this was another romance scam that Vu fell victim to, too.
Soon enough, she had sent more than $300,000 worth of Bitcoin to an address that was connected to an account on the Hong Kong cryptocurrency exchange OSL. She witnessed the money rise and fall, and she believed it was legit. “We can make more money on top of OSL and go on a honeymoon,” he had said in one of their texts. In no time, Vu was scammed and the man vanished into thin air. “I thought I knew him. Everything was a lie.”
Experts take on Crypto Scammers
Due to romance scams, a total of $139 million had been lost. Crypto dating scams have emerged as a major category in cybercrime with more than 1800 cases.
Jan Santiago, the deputy director of the Global Anti-Scam Organization believes that these Crypto scammers mostly target young and educated women than any other. “It’s mostly millennials who are getting scammed.
” Jan Lee, a researcher at the online fraud prevention firm Sift, said, “People are lonely from the pandemic, and crypto is super-hot right now. The combination of the two has really made this a successful scam.” She further added that these Crypto Scammers try to move the conversation to WhatsApp mostly because it is more encrypted and harder to track.
Crypto Scams are harder to track because of the privacy they offer. Even though they are public, wallets can be set up anonymously. So, it’s easier to hide the trail of money, and stolen money gets hard to recover.
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