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Woman, 33, lost $300,000 in Bitcoin due to love scam

By Business Insider

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  • A woman lost about $300,000 worth of bitcoin after her Hinge match scammed her out of the funds.
  • A New York Times report found the scammer promised her a honeymoon and life together.
  • Crypto crimes, including online dating scams, surged last year amid rising digital asset prices.

A romance on the dating app Hinge went sour when a scammer allegedly cheated a 33-year-old woman out of nearly all of her life savings after convincing her to invest in cryptocurrencies.

According to The New York Times, the woman fell in love with a man who claimed to be a Chinese architect living in Maryland. They met on Hinge and messaged back and forth for months, never meeting in person due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.

He eventually brought up the subject of cryptocurrencies.

She expressed interest in cryptocurrency, particularly after hearing about it frequently in the news, and he promised her that the investment windfall would help pay for their honeymoon and kick start their lives together.

She ended up sending over $300,000 in bitcoin to a wallet address that she claimed was legitimate, with round-the-clock support and an up-to-date balance, and that her beau claimed was linked to the Hong Kong crypto exchange known as OSL.

In reality, it was deposited in the scammer’s wallet. He vanished, and now she’s coming to terms with the fact that it was all “a lie,” according to the New York Times. Insider was unable to identify and contact the woman, who works for a security company’s customer service.

The nascent, but rapidly expanding, cryptocurrency market has become an increasingly popular venue for financial crime. According to a recent Chainalysis report, crypto crimes increased by 80% in 2021 compared to the previous year.

The rise prompted the US Justice Department to form the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team to combat digital asset fraud.

Dating scams, for example, are one of the many types of crypto crimes that are on the rise. According to a report cited by the Times from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Oregon office, more than 1,800 people reported falling victim to online romance scams, resulting in approximately $133 million in losses.

Though online romance scams have long existed, crypto adds a “new twist,” the FBI wrote.

After claiming to be the real deal and gaining the victim’s trust, the bad actor pretends to be a crypto expert and “offers to help the victim make big money, too,” the FBI bulletin said. “Once the victim invests, the scammer allows the victim to withdraw a small amount of profit from the alleged account. After the successful withdrawal, the scammer instructs the victim to invest larger amounts of money, and he often pushes the victim to ‘act fast.'”

It all ends when the victim stops sending funds. To prevent the issue, the FBI said to avoid sharing personal and financial information with someone online and to be wary of someone claiming to have exclusive investment opportunities and saying to “act fast.”

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