AN IRISH entrepreneur has warned women not to fall for Tinder Swindler-type con artists who are using his image in a sophisticated cryptocurrency scam.
James Blake, from Belfast, who runs a digital marketing company, says he is bombarded with messages on a daily basis from girls warning him that his identity is being used by online scammers.
He told the Irish Sun: “It’s constant every day. There’s little you can do about it if someone is just using your picture but when I was alerted to the cryptocurrency angle it is a bit more sinister.
“It’s real Tinder Swindler stuff and I just want to warn anyone out there to report any messages they think they get from me. I’ve been contacted by hundreds of women around the world over this because it really is relentless.
The 28-year-old, who owns Vindicta Digital Marketing Agency, said he started being alerted to the scams about 12 months ago.
He revealed that most women eventually realise that that they are targets of online scammers and through Internet facial recognition services they are able to confirm James’s real identity.
In some cases just his picture is used with the fraudsters using different names, while in other circumstances his own is used.
James also added that in a sinister twist, some fake profiles have lifted photographs of his family members and lifestyle taken from his legitimate social media accounts.
He’s tried reporting it to the platforms but when accounts are closed others just keep opening up and when he realised that scammers were trying to use his account in a cryptocurrency scam he spoke to the police,
James explained: “A woman contacted me from Florida to say she had started talking to a man on Facebook Dating. He was using the name Alan Chien but used my pictures.
“She said that they had been chatting for a good while and she thought it was real because he never mentioned money, which these fraudsters always do.
“Then eventually her got her interested in Bitcoin and even transferred $10,000 to her own Bitcoin wallet, which they increased to $100,000 in a week.
“But there was a catch that you had to pay tax on this to withdraw but couldn’t use anything from the $100,000 to pay the tax and if you pay within five days there was $5,000 penalty taken from that total amount.
“Once it hit the $100,000 he apparently disappeared and stopped talking to her. That’s when she realised it was a scam.
“Another woman said she had lost thousands this way. It’s real Tinder Swindler stuff.
FAKE ACCOUNTS ALERT
“I have reported it to the platforms and I spoke to the police when I was made aware of the crypto element because I don’t want anyone to get conned.
“It got really sinister when I was alerted to fake accounts that had obviously taken my photographs from my real Instagram account and a number of fake accounts were set up.
“That element was very worrying,”
James, who is the first Northern Irish member of the Forbes Agency Council, said he just wants to send out a warning to anyone else who might be contacted by people claiming to him,
He said: “I run a digital marketing company and have nothing to do with crypto investments as the fake accounts.
“The only legitimate Instagram account in my name is @mrjamesblake. I just want people to be aware of this if the get contacted by someone claiming to be me.
“With programs like the Tinder Swindler and The Hunt for the Crypto King on Netflix this kind of activity is rife and I want certainly don’t want to be in anyway associated with it.
“I have responded to many messages but I just stopped a while ago because it got way too much.
“I hope this makes people realised quickly that they are the intended victims of very sophisticated scam and hope it gets the message out.”