Tinder, Hinge, dating websites… Who would have thought crypto scammers would move to such a new level of luring people in? Romance fraud was on the rise before and during the Covid-19 pandemic, but the prevalence is now reaching new heights. For example, romance fraud victims from San Francisco lost over $64 million in 2021, compared to about $35 million in 2020.
Romance is a powerful hook for crypto scammers. Fraudsters pretend to be a love interest in order to deceive virtual partners and steal their crypto. This scheme is not a new one, but the rapid rise in fraud driven by the proliferation of online dating apps and websites is drawing the attention of analysts and crypto enthusiasts. Experts from PointPay care about their users. Therefore, we always want to keep our clients up to date regarding fraud and cryptocurrency scams.
A typical romance scam starts by gaining the victims' trust, who are then redirected to platforms that claim to have investment opportunities. First, scammers allow investors to take some of the profits from the original transaction to prove their reliability. After that, people are forced to invest more and more fiat money or cryptocurrencies.
When the victim is ready to withdraw funds again, scammers come up with some reasons why this cannot be done. For example, some victims were asked to pay additional taxes or fees. Scammers also usually stop responding after the victims refuse to send their funds again.
Romance fraud: dating apps as a new target
Romance scammers are also sometimes called catfishers. They create fake social profiles using free stock images or AI-generated photos of humans who don't exist. After that, fraudsters trick victims into sending them crypto. That's what happened to a young American from Tennessee one year ago.
Niki Hutchinson was in California visiting friends when she matched on Hinge with a guy named Hao. They were texting for about two months when he offered to teach Niki how to invest in cryptocurrencies. Niki, who had just inherited $300,000, eventually agreed. She sent some money to an address a scammer gave her, which he said was connected to an account on one crypto exchange. When the money appeared on the platform, she decided to send more.
Finally, when Niki invested all her savings, she started to get suspicious. She tried to withdraw money, but all the transactions failed. It is easy to guess it was too late.
Romance fraud continues to flourish through the combination of social engineering and cryptocurrency. This type of crypto scam is perfectly organized. Fraudsters are skilled in identifying and exploiting future victims based on the situation and even level of technical abilities. Remember that romance scams aren't the only way fraudsters fool people into sending their funds.
Always pay attention to red flags, including:
- Virtual partners who constantly make excuses why they can't meet (such as "I am too shy," I am not ready yet") or don't show up for meetings;
- Too fast-moving virtual relationships with people you've never met in person;
- People who claim to live in the same city/area but are working abroad.
The best way to protect yourself from becoming a victim of romance fraud is never to send cryptocurrency or fiat money, as well as never share personal and financial information. What is more, do not send intimate photos or videos. All this private data can be easily used to blackmail you. Always do your research and verify someone you've met online by researching the name and surname provided, as well as other details. Finally, do not forget to do a reverse image search of photos to see if they appear on the web or are used by someone else.
Stay safe with PointPay!
🔥 Buy PXP tokens on Bittrex: https://bit.ly/32VWsci
🔥 Buy PXP tokens on Bitrue: https://bit.ly/3JEreHu
🔥 Buy PXP tokens on BitHumb: https://bit.ly/3qOK6e9
🔥 Buy PXP tokens on WhiteBIT: https://bit.ly/3qJrjRH
💰 Earn up to 20% yearly with PXP staking program in PointPay Bank: https://bank.pointpay.io/staking
💡 Check PointPay Live-Roadmap (PointPay development in real-time): https://pointpay.io/live-roadmap/
🏦 Remember, we are PointPay, and we are beyond banking!