Woman swindled out of $390,000 in crypto scam by man she met on dating app Hinge – USA TODAY

A woman said she lost $390,000 after falling for an online crypto dating scam and wants to warn others.

Nicole Hutchinson, of Tennessee, told CBS News not only did she lose her own money, but her father’s, too while attempting to make friends before moving to California.

Hutchinson inherited her mother’s house after she died and decided to sell the property. She split the profit with her father and inherited $280,000 that was supposed to be used to help her family build a life in California.

The 24-year-old decided to try the online dating site Hinge and matched with a man named “Hao” while visiting a friend in the state, the New York Times reported

He told her that he came from the same town in China where she was adopted, and they continued texting after she returned home. He suggested she try investing in cryptocurrency because it was an area he knew well. 

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“I want to teach you to invest in cryptocurrency when you are free, bring some changes to your life and bring an extra income to your life,” he texted her, according to a screenshot of the exchange seen by the New York Times.

She began small then gradually invested larger amounts of money to the link Hao sent her and soon she started to see profits. Hutchinson told her father he should invest too, and he did.

With a combined balance of $1.2 million by December, Hutchinson told CBS News it was time to withdraw but there was a catch. She would have to pay a $380,000 “tax bill” and learned soon after that none of her investments were real.

“I messed up my life. I messed up my dad’s life,” Hutchinson said.  

Online dating scams are on the rise. The FBI issued an alert earlier this month about victims losing $1 billion in 2021. 

“The bottom line is most consumers are not reporting fraud when it happens and romance scams may be particularly unlikely to be reported because there can be a lot of embarrassment around it,” Emma Fletcher, a Federal Trade Commission analyst, told USA TODAY.

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The FTC said scammers usually ask for gift cards, but the largest losses came from payments made in cryptocurrency, which accounted for $139 million in losses in 2021.

“I think he really played off that I was naïve and not knowing anything about crypto, and taking that and running with it,” Hutchinson told CBS News. “I just hope others don’t have to fall for it.”

Contributing: Mike Snider

Follow reporter Asha Gilbert @Coastalasha. Email: agilbert@usatoday.com.

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