Stephen, 68, whose name has been changed to protect his identity, lost £6,000 after being approached on LinkedIn by a glamorous fraudster. He wanted to warn others about the dangers of crypto currency scams.
Stephen was sent a message on LinkedIn by a woman called Alice who claimed to be a finance director in Washington DC but this was a fake identity and alias.
After some polite chat, Stephen said Alice asked him to move onto WhatsApp. There, the conversation turned to crypto currencies.
Alice said that her uncle worked in banking in Hong Kong and that she’d successfully made money with his help.
She encouraged Stephen to get involved and eventually he downloaded trading apps and a virtual wallet to keep his crypto cash in.
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Stephen had an interest in Bitcoin, but he didn’t understand how the system worked so when Alice started talking about it, he thought he might learn something.
After some early successes, Alice told Stephen to log into another trading app and talked him through a series of trades her uncle had apparently recommended.
Stephen said: “All of sudden there were three transactions on the screen.
“She was telling me, ‘Quick, buy long. Buy short!’ And by the end of it I’d made $600 [around £480].
“I went along with it on several occasions. I was saying to myself this is too good to be true – and it was.”
Stephen transferred another £2,300 into the trading account.
At this point, Alice had sent photographs to Stephen of her “looking glamorous”, behind the wheel of expensive cars and telling him that he’s wonderful.
Stephen added: “She was also telling me she can help me make lots of money.
“She asked me to buy $50,000 [around £50,000] (for the trading account), then this went down to $20,000 [around £16,000).
“Then she offered to loan me $12,000 [around £9,000]. I told her that I didn’t need the money and thought, why is she doing this?”
When Stephen started to pull away, Alice would start asking him why he didn’t love her anymore and then asked him for $5,000 [around £4,000] for a first-class ticket to come visit him.
When Stephen refused her demands, Alice’s tone changed and he stopped all communication.
Stephen tried to recover the $11,000 [around £8,000] he thought he had sitting in his trading account.
He discovered the account was inaccessible. It was a fake trading site.
“I realised I’d been had, good and proper,” Stephen continued.
At this point, Stephen contacted Action Fraud who forwarded his case to the police.
Stephen is now a member of the Essex Police romance fraud support group and hopes by sharing his story it will stop other people falling into the same trap.
He said: “I’ll do whatever I can to help those like me, or those who have lost even more than me.
“Nobody likes losing money. I didn’t put in more than I could afford to lose but this might not be the case for others.”
Anyone who believes they have been a victim of romance fraud should call police on 101.
For other forms of fraud, contact ActionFraud – the national fraud and cybercrime reporting centre – by calling 0300 123 2040.