An Ordinary Man Lost $300,000 in An Online Dating & Cryptocurrency Scam
To meet someone, millions of individuals use online dating applications or social networking sites. Instead of romance, many people find a scammer attempting to con them into paying money.
When Mike downloaded the dating app called Tinder, he was looking for the company of someone nearby. But, in July, he met a woman named “Jenny” from Malaysia and started exchanging messages on the dating platform and then on WhatsApp, a messaging app. While the couple discussed their lives and travels together, a month or so later, Jenny turned the conversation over to crypto.
“She began telling me about her uncle who worked at JP Morgan … he was the global expert on Bitcoin options,” said Mike, who asked NBC News not to reveal his last name to protect his privacy. “I wasn’t looking[ing] To invest in cryptocurrency. I was looking for someone to enjoy with, you know, “Let’s go for a walk, let’s go to dinner.”
He Was Convinced to Investing His Money
They never met, but Jenny convinced him to invest $3,000 through a legitimate cryptocurrency exchange, crypto.com.
Then I encouraged him to transfer that money to a different platform, said Mike, who is retired and single. “She was getting me excited and saying to me, Mike, so send more money. The more you have here, the more you can make.” When his cryptocurrency portfolio hit $1 million, he was hired as his own “teacher analyst” named Devon. But four months later, when Jenny and Devon asked him to send tax payments to the Department of Homeland Security and not the IRS, Mike became suspicious. He tried to transfer money from his account – he couldn’t. That’s when he realizes none of it was real – his gains or his girlfriend Jenny – except for his epic losses.
“I spent about $277,000,” Mike said
Mike downloaded the dating app Tinder in search of companionship with someone nearby. photo courtesy Crypto-romantic scams, like the one Mike caught, are becoming increasingly popular thanks to the boom in online dating and cryptocurrency use — and the scale of his losses is not unusual.
Scammers utilize dating apps and sites to entice victims into flirting and fraudulent cryptocurrency investments by promising romance and speedy financial gains. The online hunt for love ends in a broken heart and an empty wallet. “You’ll see the profits; you’ll even be able to withdraw some money at some point. But then when you want to balance the whole thing, that’s when you realize you’re a victim because they say there’s usually a fine or fee, and it’s in the hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said Amy Nowzeger, Fraud Manager Victim support in American Association of Retirees Fraud Control Network.
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CryptoCurrency Scam Rates Are On a Rise
Nofziger said her team currently receives two or three complaints a day involving crypto romance scams, compared to one or two complaints a week ago, and the losses are massive.
“Victims involved in these scams lose hundreds of thousands of dollars, even millions of dollars,” Nofziger said. “If you think this will never happen to you, you are wrong. It can and will happen, and I guarantee you that someone in your inner circle is now the victim of a scam.” In an online memo, Tinder warned users not to send money online and to be careful if someone asks them to leave the dating service to connect directly or avoid meeting in person.
In a statement, WhatsApp said anyone can receive “a suspicious message on any service, including email and SMS, and anytime this happens, we strongly encourage everyone to exercise caution before responding or sharing.” “Unlike SMS and other messaging platforms, people on WhatsApp can use the tools we provide within the app to send us a report, report a contact, or block a contact,” the messaging app said.
Scammers Are Capitalizing on The “Crypto Craze”
As many people have become immersed in the crypto-craze, scammers have taken advantage of it, adding a new twist to the old tricks. While some scammers trick victims into investing in fake cryptocurrency, others convince victims to give up on the real thing.
Cryptocurrency has become the preferred payment method for traditional scams like phishing, where someone sends a text, email, or phone call to claim payment for anything from taxes to insurance, according to Ricky Patel, the special agent in charge of the New York Homeland Security Investigations. Patel warned that scammers target “a whole range of age groups and people.” [scammers are] Communicate with them constantly and hit them, whether it’s emails, phone calls, text messages, everything, every avenue they’re really trying to exploit.”
People reported losing $294 million in crypto payments to scammers in 2021, according to the Federal Trade Commission, compared to $44 million in credit card payments. “That money goes to the exchanges after you send it.” Once they get it, they keep it, and they release it; it’s almost impossible to get it back, especially if you don’t know who the other side is,” Patel said.
As for Mike, he doubts he will return the hundreds of thousands he lost in fictitious investments, but he said he has reported his case to the AARP, HSI, FBI, and FTC and wants to see someone held accountable.
I want them to be locked up for the rest of their life. Mike stated, “I don’t want them to attack anyone else.”
If you’ve been tricked into investing money through cryptocurrency exchange ezchargeback is here to help you.
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According to the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Consumer Sentinel, between October 2020 and March 31, 2021, nearly 7,000 people reported losses totaling more than $80 million. These figures reflect a 12-fold increase in the number of reports over the same period last year, as well as a nearly 1,000% increase in reported losses.
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