Cupid might still be aiming his arrows to catch the eyes of potential lovers, but he hasn't heard of doing it through cryptocurrencies just yet. Crypto romance scams have been making rounds. This is when a person lures an unknowing victim into some form of online relationship, only to get robbed of his or her cryptocurrencies by this so-called loved one. But how, exactly, do these happen?
In this article, we will discuss what crypto romance scams are, how to avoid them, and what to do if you fall victim to one.
What are Crypto Romance Scams?
Crypto romance scams are when someone uses a dating app or social media platform to create a fake profile with the intention of defrauding someone out of their cryptocurrency. These scams usually follow a similar pattern: the scammer builds up a relationship with their target over a period of time, gains their trust, and then asks for crypto in some way or another.
They may claim to need them for travel expenses, medical bills, or in extreme cases some will even fake emergency situations. They might also claim that cryptocurrencies are a good investment opportunity, only to lure the victim into a fraudulent investment. Once they have received the cryptocurrency, they quickly disappear and can be very difficult to track down. This type of scam is also known as catfishing or pig butchering.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), crypto romance scams are the second most popular investment scams reported to them, raking up more than $185 million since 2021. Furthermore, they reported that the median loss stood at a staggering ten thousand dollars, with some managing to defraud people of much more.
These types of scams have been getting creative, and not even relationship experts are safe from them. They may not only use dating apps like Tinder, Bumble, The League, and Hinge, but also more traditional social media platforms such as Whatsapp and Instagram. Furthermore, some might use a combination of popular crypto scams, such as using honeypot scams when they are catfishing.
How to Avoid Crypto Romance Scams
The best way to avoid being scammed is to be aware of the signs of a crypto romance scam. Some red flags to look out for include:
- The person is vague about personal details or pushes for personal information too quickly.
- They seem too good to be true.
- They refuse to video chat or meet in person after talking for a while.
- They have grammar or spelling errors in their messages.
- They ask for money early on in the relationship or after only interacting online or over the phone.
- They keep oddly bringing up crypto as an investment, especially through a particular exchange or website.
In order to be sure about the legitimacy of the person you are speaking to, there are a couple of very important and basic things you should do:
- Perform a Google reverse image search on the profile picture to check if it has been used before.
- Search the person on other social media platforms to see if they are indeed real.
- Insist to meet on camera before starting to build a connection.
If you see any red flags, trust your gut and move on. It's better to be safe than sorry. Additionally, there are some steps you can take when setting up your dating profile to avoid being scammed:
- Never give out personal information like your home address, full name, or date of birth until you have met the person in person and established trust.
- Google yourself often and set up Google Alerts with your name so that you will be notified if anyone is using your identity without your knowledge.
- Use a different email address than your primary one when setting up your dating profile. This way, if you do get scammed, your primary email will not be compromised.
What to do if you fall victim to a crypto romance scam?
The best thing to do if you fall victim to such a scam is to report it to the relevant authorities, such as the FTC (which has a dedicated page to report these scams and frauds) and your local police. They should be able to guide you further as to what are the next steps to take and if there is any chance to retrieve your stolen funds.
Being scammed can be a devastating experience, both emotionally and financially. By being aware of the signs of a crypto romance scam and taking some precautions when setting up your dating profile, you can help protect yourself from becoming a victim. However, even if you do everything right, there is still a chance that you could fall victim to a scammer. If this happens, do not despair – you are not alone and there are steps you can take to try and recover your losses and get back on your feet again.