A sophisticated cryptocurrency scam has successfully stolen approximately $70 million from investors who were conned by people they met on online dating platforms.
The scammers posed as attractive women to lure in over 200 victims from around 20 different countries. After gaining their trust, the bad actors moved the conversation over to WhatsApp so they couldn’t be detected by internal moderation teams.
They then convinced their victims to buy real cryptocurrencies before transferring their funds to two fraudulent exchanges, Bitfex.pro and Bitfex.vip. Both of the services have since been shut down.
It’s believed that the operation was based in Hong Kong, although local police are no longer pursuing an investigation because of the ever changing IP addresses.
One German man said he was contacted by a scammer through Ablo, a social networking subsidiary of Match Group with a large impact in mainland Europe. Other victims were contacted on more mainstream apps, such as Tinder.
Verification platform ‘Social Catfish’ recently published a report looking into the number of online scams in the last year. $4.2 billion was stolen in 2020, an unfortunate new record considering $7.6 billion was lost in the three years previous.
A separate review from the Federal Trade Commission found that US singles lost over $300 million during the year to romance fraud.
Read more here.