A Toronto area woman found herself caught in a romance scam that had her investing in what she thought was bitcoin.
The woman tells blogTO she had just broken up with her boyfriend in mid-July.
“I was really at the lowest point in my life, I was really not happy, I was depressed and you could say vulnerable,” the woman who did not wish to be named, tells blogTO.
She went on the Facebook dating app in search of a boyfriend. Although she currently lives in Brampton, her dating profile is listed as Toronto where she used to work.
She started chatting with a man who went by the name Ricky Qin from Singapore with his home listed as Kitchener. Unlike her old boyfriend, Ricky spent time chatting with her on WhatsApp.
“He gave time and affection online,” she says. “Because I was vulnerable, I believed everything he said.”
They planned to meet to go hiking but the outing was cancelled due bad weather. They never met in person.
On Ricky’s profile, he listed an interest in investing and the woman asked him if he knew anything about Bitcoin. She didn’t doubt what he was saying because she initiated the conversation.
“He had me convinced about trading cryptocurrency.”
He suggested buying Bitcoin on the well-known website Shakepay and then told her to send the currency to a trading website that he provided.
“He was telling me what to do, when to trade.”
She started with $2,000 at first and he told her she had earned $800 from trading. He told her she had to invest more and she put in another $10,000. None of this raised any red flags for her.
“Basically, I was under his spell, I was brainwashed.”
She wasn’t suspicious until he sent her a photo of a hotel room where he was supposed to be staying in Calgary for a business trip. She found the exact same photo on Instagram and then she knew he was lying.
She questioned him and he got mad. She asked how to get her money out but he convinced her to send more money in order to get her funds. She sent a total of $12,400.
She eventually found the website on a list of scam sites and reported the fraud to police two weeks ago.
“I was stupid for not verifying everything he was saying.”
There are a number of red flags she says she should have caught. His social media sites were new with no followers and the phone number he gave to chat on WhatsApp had an unfamiliar area code. The Canadian Fraud Centre lists several romance scam tricks.
The woman hopes her story will help other women from getting fooled.