Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and scammers are out to break hearts – and wallets, warns a consumer watchdog group.
The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to beware of cryptocurrency scams targeting romantic hopes on Tinder and other dating apps. It’s the latest in a bag of tricks that scammers use to scam online users looking for love.
The ruse usually begins with “swiping right” to match an attractive individual on a dating app, according to the BBB. Your “potential partner” speeds up the conversation, but quickly tries to move things offline to a texting app like WeChat or WhatsApp.
Once there, the conversation changes from a small chat to your new friend telling you about one of his relatives who has successfully traded cryptocurrencies. Don’t fall for the trap, warns the BBB.
“This person (allegedly) has insider trading information that could make you rich!” the watchdog group said. “Your new love interest encourages you to take advantage of this ‘exclusive opportunity’. All you have to do is deposit money into a cryptocurrency trading platform. But once you make a deposit, the money is gone forever.
You’ll soon find yourself “ghosted,” experts say, with your potential partner cutting off all communication.
Similar scams have been reported to the BBB, including a trick that tricks victims into laundering money. A crypto scam victim reported that BBB ScamTracker lost US$1.9 million (RM7 million) after hooking up with a woman on Tinder.
“She is very endearing and loving, she sends me photos, hello…”, wrote the person. “She mentions that a side hobby is teaching her friends how to make extra money. She starts talking about investing in cryptocurrencies.
After some resistance, the victim relented and agreed to “invest $10,100 (RM42,308/using a crypto trading website), hold the investment for a while, then withdraw $5,000 (20,945 RM)”. This continued for several months, the victim said, only for the scammer to cut off all communication and the crypto-trading site to suddenly shut down.
Romance scam red flags
So what’s the best way to protect yourself against crypto fraud and other romance scams?
The BBB advises consumers against sending money and personal information to someone you have never seen or met in person. Until then, all conversations should stay on the dating app where you first met.
“If a love interest seems to be in a rush to leave the dating app for an insecure chat app, that’s a red flag,” according to the BBB’s website.
It’s also important to do your homework on potential dates, the BBB said, by researching their dating profile and asking specific questions about it. – The Charlotte Observer / Tribune news service