Romance Scams and Crypto Assets – Fact or Fraud?
More than ever people looking for a relationship are turning to dating apps and social media sites. While some are looking for a relationship others see this trend as a way to scam people out of their money. Not only are dating apps very popular but so are crypto assets and criminals have found a way to turn the typical romance scam into cyber fraud.
Crypto Asset Romance Scams – How They Work
Fraudsters develop fake online profiles on dating apps and other social media sites like Facebook and Instagram. They then reach out to people on the apps and attempt to develop a relationship. The scammer may claim to live in another country, but they are interested in meeting and taking the relationship to another level. They may also suggest you move your “relationship” to a private channel like email or a chat app. When the time is right, the fraudster poses an urgent request for money, and requests you send money via gift cards, prepaid debit cards, or crypto assets.
In some romance scams, the fraudster requests that the conversation continue on another app and lures the person into installing fake apps or encrypted apps on their smartphones that leave them open to theft. Scammers will go very far to make the fake app look very similar to a legitimate app.
Once the person agrees to send money to the scammer, they get them to download the fake crypto asset trading app. The scheme may continue until the person wants to end the relationship or stop sending money and contacts the app to get out their money out. The person may then find themselves locked out of their account and contact customer support only to be talking to one of the scammers. In some cases, the person may be asked to pay an “exit fee” to get their money out.
How to Protect Yourself
Know the red flags of romance scams:
- Only download apps from legitimate app stores.
- Check the profile picture on a reverse image search to see if it has been used before.
- Be wary of anyone asking for you to send money in gift cards, crypto assets, or through wire transfer.
- Does the person live far away and any plans to meet in person get canceled?
- The person tries to move the relationship too fast.
- Investigate – ask for credentials and validate them for anyone you meet online who claims to be a financial expert in crypto assents and wants to teach you how to buy/trade crypto assets.
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