Bitcoin scammers hit dating apps to prey on lonely hearts
Bitcoin scammers hit dating apps to prey on lonely hearts By Hannah Perez

You’re looking for love, but you’re losing your money instead: cryptocurrency scams are taking over dating apps to trick unsuspecting users



If you’re looking for your better half online, beware: cryptocurrency scammers could be looking for you


The idea that your heart could be stolen is taking on a whole new dimension now that lonely hearts are becoming the preferred targets of crypto scammers. In what appears to be the latest mode of crypto scams

, the scammers would look for their victims among unsuspecting users of online dating apps.

The Bitcoin fraud scheme is gaining popularity mainly in Japan, where several local media outlets have reported on such scams over the past few months. The media outlet Cryptonews reported this week on the recent case of a woman “inher 30s

” who was tricked by a man, with whom she was in a cyber relationship, into investing in cryptocurrencies.

Claiming to be a successful cryptocurrency trader overseas, the scammer had convinced the victim to invest in a fraudulent cryptocurrency platform under the promise of juicy profits. However, the man and the trading website vanished after she invested about USD $345,000. Yahoo! Japan

covered the story.

A phenomenon spreading across Japan

The young Japanese woman is far from being the first. A few days earlier, another local media outlet had already reported that another 50-year-old woman fell for a very similar scam. According to the report, she also had conversations with a supposedly successful foreign trader, via the messaging app Line, who convinced her to buy USD 82,000 worth of bitcoins

on a fraudulent site.

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In fact, the matter appears to have escalated into a potential national risk, as some agencies in Japan have begun warning users. In February, Japan’s National Consumer Affairs Center (CNAC) issued a warning

to men between the ages of 30 and 49 to be on the lookout for cryptocurrency scammers lurking on dating apps; in particular, they warned about those claiming to be international experts in digital assets.

The CNAC further revealed in

at the time that it was investigating cases in which “women looking for love” persuaded male users through dating apps to invest in crypto projects using “faketrading platforms.

A publication by Yahoo! Japan earlier this year reported how the phenomenon is spreading across the country. The report recounted the particular case of a 40-year-old man who was swindled out of more than US$70,000 by a 20-year-old Taiwanese woman he was planning to marry. The media outlet added that some men in Japan have reported average losses of $17,000 after falling victim to women they thought were trustworthy.

Lonely hearts alert: scammers are everywhere

Singles looking for romance in China have also been caught up in similar circumstances. In April, the media outlet Hangzhou reported the case of a Chinese woman who had been duped by her two “online boyfriends” simultaneously. The resident of Zhejiang province recounted that one of the subjects invited her to join a gambling syndicate; while the other had persuaded her to make several investments of more than USD $2,500 in a cryptocurrency program that appeared legitimate.

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In his case, the supposed trading platform also took his money. Instead of disappearing, though, it demanded a new investment to withdraw her profit, something she discovered was false after she upped the ante and lost more than $10,000. Interestingly, that man also claimed to be a “successful Blockchain investor”, and both of them she had met on a dating app.

Similar occurrences have been reported in other countries this year as well. The British media The Guardian picked up the story last month of a young woman under the pseudonym James Evans, who thought she had met her better half on Grindr. “Itseemed like a genuine connection,” she told the outlet, but she soon discovered it was far from it.

Unfortunately for Evans, she hadn’t found her soulmate. Instead, she had been conned into investing more than £12,000 (USD $16,440) on a fraudulent platform that she got to through others that were legitimate.

Another woman in Hong Kong experienced something similar in March, when she met someone through the dating portal Coffee Meets Bagel, which directed her to a fraudulent investment website. In that case, the victim lost about USD $120,000 in a scam that used the USDT stablecoin, as reported by Epoch Times.

In the United States, some <a href=”” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>reports from earlier this year also agreed on the growing popularity of various forms of cryptocurrency-linked scams circulating among reputable dating sites like Tinder.

Signs to Spot a Romance Scam

In the wake of the pandemic, romance scams are estimated to have increased by 40% in the UK alone, according to data cited by a British media outlet. Although it is possible that these figures are even higher worldwide, considering that some victims may be too embarrassed to report such incidents.

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In any case, one must consider these possible risks of digital dating apps; which have also become more popular during confinement. It should be noted that the different cases collected in this article present several common elements, which can serve as warning signs to detect these fake casanovas.

In general, the modus operandi involves the scammer seeking to convince the victim to migrate the conversation from the dating platform to another social network. In some cases, it also involves seduction on the part of the scammer, who seeks to demonstrate interest in the victim and establish what could be construed as a genuine connection.

Fraudulent investment sites will always be presented as legitimate and usually with the promise of attractive returns. Often the scammer will try to convince the victim by claiming that he – or she – has successfully invested on that platform. It may also happen that the scam website will give returns or profits that initially make it appear trustworthy, but then this dynamic may change. Most commonly, the platform disappears with the money, as does the cyber-lover.

In any case, keep in mind that if your online relationship is asking for money, they may not be exactly the soul mate you dreamed of. Love can definitely be very painful, although no one warned that going out looking for it could be so costly.

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Article by Hannah Estefania Perez / DiarioBitcoin

Image by Unsplash