LONGMEADOW, Mass. (WWLP) – The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning people of a cryptocurrency scheme targeting people through dating apps after a Longmeadow woman lost $250,000.
The BBB says schemers will create fake profiles and once they match with someone, they will try and take the conversation to another messaging platform and talk about family members that are successful in cryptocurrency investing. The person claims to have inside trading information that could make the victim rich. However, once someone deposits money into the trading platform, that money is gone forever and they block the victim on all platforms.
This incident was recently reported to the BBB by a woman from Longmeadow. After talking to a man on a dating app, she was persuaded to invest in fake cryptocurrency.
“Everything about him seemed legit. His background, his family, and even where he went to college in Portugal. It didn’t seem anything was out of place, and I started to create an emotional connection with him. As we progressed in our conversations, he would ask me how I was doing financially. Since I am a single mom, of course, things have been difficult. He then suggested investing in Crypto and showed me the profits I could make if I decided to invest. Of course, after communicating every day, all day, day and night, he persuaded me and I fell into his trap, not realizing I was becoming a victim of a scam. I, unfortunately, fell into a romance scam, and he convinced me that everything he was doing was to help me. I was naïve, believed in him and I also had my family’s support. He knew exactly how to manipulate me,” said the Longmeadow woman.
The BBB says schemers will steal photos and create fake accounts based on real people. They sometimes claim they are overseas and can’t meet in person, and prey on the victim’s emotions. Conversations could go on for months before they attempt to steal your information.
In the victim’s case, she was convinced to invest in Crypto. She was directed a fraudulent website and deposited money that went right to the schemer’s pocket. The funds she sent were through wire transfer and some with her debit card, none of which are reversible.
The victim deposited $250,000 into the fake website, and the schemer has convinced that her investments had grown to $470,000. But the schemer was relentless and tried to pull even more money from the victim, saying she would have to pay another $28,000 in fees to release her funds.
“Once I sent the funds from my bank institution to Crypto, I then bought USDT and transferred the funds into Bitpie. They explained to me how to perform the transactions and I increased my funds to $470,000. Bitpie requested a deposit of $28,000 to release my funds and then I realized I had become the victim of a scam, but it was already too late,” said the victim.
“Some people think that they would never fall victim to this kind of scam. They think that they are too smart to fall for this kind of charade, or that only older people who aren’t internet savvy would fall for these kinds of scams. This is simply not true; anyone can fall victim to one of these scams,” stated the BBB.
The victim is young, intelligent and a single mother who was manipulated and believed she was building a true relationship with someone.
“I cannot describe how I am feeling at the moment and how hard it’s been for myself and my family the last few days. I’m emotionally drained and being scammed is the worst possible feeling anyone can experience. It is so devastating and demoralizing,” said the Longmeadow woman.
According to BBB, this is how you can protect yourself from this scam:
• Be wary of requests to switch to a different mode of communication. After making initial contact on the dating app, just in case the dating app flags them for having a fake profile, they may quickly try to get the victim to switch to a different mode of communication such as email or texting. Mary was communicating with the scammer via WhatsApp and Instagram shortly after meeting on Hinge.
• Never send money or sensitive personal information to someone you’ve never met in person. Cut off contact if someone starts asking you for financial or personally identifiable information (PII), like your credit card number or government ID number.
• Research your date first. Many scammers steal photos from the internet to use in their dating profiles. You can do a reverse image lookup using a website, like Google Images, to see if the photos on a profile are stolen from somewhere else. You can also search online for a profile name, email, or phone number to see what adds up and what doesn’t.
• Ask specific questions about details given in a profile. A scammer may stumble over remembering details or making a story fit.
• Don’t want to meet. Be wary of someone who always has an excuse to postpone a meeting because they say they are traveling or live overseas or are in the military.
• Suspect language. If the person you are communicating with claims to be from your hometown but has poor spelling or grammar, uses overly flowery language or uses phrases that don’t make sense, that’s a red flag.
• Hard luck stories. Before moving on to asking you for money, the scammer may hint at financial troubles like heat being cut off or a stolen car, or a sick relative, or they may share a sad story from their past (death of parents or spouse, etc.).