The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted practically every single aspect of life. Because the physical contact between people had to be minimized to a minimum, love dates and romantic activities ended up being progressively popular on dating applications. And while some people found their soulmates online, others turned into victims of cryptocurrency fraudsters who drained pipes a substantial piece of their cost savings.
One such example is the 33-year-old Tho Vu, who fell in love with a mysterious lover called Ze Zhao. After messaging on Hinge for several months, the couple started preparing their wedding and honeymoon. Unfortunately for Ms. Vu, the man pretended to love her and reportedly drained $300,000 worth of bitcoin from her.
In a different case on WhatsApp, another fraudster tempted the 24-year-old social networks producer– Niki Hutchinson– to invest $300,000 in digital possessions. Needless to state, she never saw that money once again.
Love Can Be Unpleasant
Crypto fraudsters are getting increasingly more creative. When Ze Zhao met Tho Vu on Hinge, he introduced himself as an architect from China who has some work responsibilities in Maryland, the U.S.A.. After texting for a while, he started calling her “little sweetie” and promised to satisfy her with his family in China once the pandemic was over.
As quickly as Zhao understood that his victim had developed a serious crush on him, he changed the topic of discussion into bitcoin and other digital properties. The scammer further asserted that he worked in customer service for a security business and urged the female to invest her cost savings in a suspicious crypto exchange. He promised that the financial investment would help them get married and go on a honeymoon.
“I ‘d heard a lot about crypto in the news. I’m a curious person, and he in fact was really experienced about the entire trading procedure,” Vu admitted.
In the following weeks, the victim sent out over $300K worth of bitcoin (nearly her entire life savings) to an account on the Hong Kong trading location OSL. In the beginning, the platform looked genuine and supplied 24/7 online customer support.
Soon after, though, Mr. Zhao took interaction with the victim. Instead of starting a life together, Ms. Vu recognized that the cash she sent did not go into the exchange account but to the scammer’s digital wallet.
“I thought I knew him. Everything was a lie,” she regretted.
Another Similar Case
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), romance rip-offs led to $139 million in losses in 2021, while the conned individuals were more than 56,000. Cryptocurrency frauds represented more than 1,800 of those cases. Jane Lee– a researcher at the online fraud-prevention company Sift– provided her arguments why there is an increase in such rip-offs:
“People are lonesome from the pandemic, and crypto is super hot today, The mix of the two has really made this an effective rip-off.”
One of those victims last year was the Tennessee residence– Niki Hutchinson. The 24-year-old checked out a friend in California when she matched on Hinge with a guy called Hao. The latter stated he works in the fashion business.
Once she went back to Tennesse, the two began messaging on WhatsApp. She informed Hao that she was born in China, however later an American family embraced her. The male said he was Chinese, too, and he comes from the same province as her. Trying to win her sympathy, he began calling her “sibling,” joking that he was her bro.
They even had a video call when, where Hao just partly revealed his face. “I believed he was shy,” the victim revealed.
As soon as he understood that Hutchinson had acquired around $300,000, Hao encouraged her to invest the funds in cryptocurrencies. “Bring some modifications to your life and bring an additional income to your life,” he told her at the time.
Convinced by his persuasiveness, she began sending percentages of the money into a crypto exchange called ISAC. Eventually, she invested all the funds and even secured a loan to designate more.
A few months later on, Hutchinson tried to withdraw some of the funds but to no get. Attempting to solve the issue, she messaged Hao, who stopped replying to her. At that point, she realized she had become a victim of a deceptive cryptocurrency scheme.
The female currently deals with her daddy in their R.V.– one of the few assets they have left. While Hutchinson does not anticipate to get her funds back, she hopes her disappointment might function as an example for people in the future.
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