- 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 awry when a scammer reportedly swindled a 33-year-old woman out of almost all her life savings after convincing her to invest in cryptocurrencies.
According to a report from The New York Times, the woman became infatuated with a man who said he was a Chinese architect living in Maryland. They matched on Hinge and messaged back and forth for months, though never meeting in person amid worries over the COVID-19 pandemic.
Eventually, he broached the topic of cryptocurrencies.
She said she was curious about crypto, especially since hearing about it in the news frequently, and he promised her the investment windfall would help pay for their honeymoon and kick start their lives together.
She ended up sending more than $300,000 worth of bitcoin to a wallet address — one that she said looked legitimate with round-the-clock support and an up-to-date balance and that her beau said was connected to the Hong Kong crypto exchange known as OSL.
In reality, it went into the scammer’s wallet. He vanished, and now she’s reconciling that it was all “a lie,” the Times said. The woman, who works for a security company’s customer service, could not be immediately identified and reached by Insider.
The nascent, yet fast-growing, market of cryptocurrencies has become an increasingly popular venue for financial crimes. A recent report from Chainalysis found crypto crimes surged 80% in 2021 from the year prior. The increase, in part, spurred the US Justice Department to establish the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team to combat digital asset crimes.
Dating scams, for one, are among the many types of crypto crimes on the rise. According to a report from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Oregon office that was cited by the Times, more than 1,800 people reported falling victim to online romance scams that led to 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.”