Crypto Romance Scams: Red Flags, Signs, and Clues
Love is in the air! Or so you might think if you're a cryptocurrency fanatic.
Crypto romance scams are rising, and perpetrators are using crypto to lure their victims. These scammers exploit emotional appeals to lure their victims into transferring money or digital assets. But don't worry - with a bit of knowledge and caution, you can protect yourself from these malicious schemes.
So, what are the red flags to watch out for? What signs and clues might help you spot a scammer before it's too late?
With Valentine's Day right around the corner, now is an excellent time to learn more concerning crypto romance scams before they steal your heart and your wallet!
The crypto world can be a breeding ground for romance scams. After all, it's a place where people can be pseudonymous and where trust is often built on digital relationships. This makes it the perfect environment for scammers wanting to take advantage of unsuspecting victims.
What Is A Crypto Romance Scam?
Crypto romance scams are when criminals use a hoax or identity fraud to win your affection and trust. They then manipulate you into believing they have feelings for you before taking advantage of your vulnerability by stealing money or goods or by requesting you to send them money.
The con artists involved will seem like someone worth investing time into because they have done everything right, like sending flowers on your birthday or meeting your family members virtually over tea. However, there's no such thing as true romance here: they only prey upon people emotionally until getting what they want.
“Romance scams cost consumers a record $304 million as more people searched for love online during the pandemic. As [the] pandemic pushed people to spend more time online, criminals targeted people on dating apps and social media platforms, especially older Americans. Adults 60 and older lost $139 million to romance scams in 2020, the FTC says.” Michelle Singletary, Washington Post.
Scammers are so charming. They're masters at establishing trust fast. They'll say anything to get you in their clutches, but deep down inside them, it is just a heart full of lies. These con artists will advance marriage proposals or organise ways to meet up face-to-face only after requesting cash, cryptocurrency or other valuables like jewellery - not before. Sometimes they'll seek financial assistance for a family emergency or unexpected legal fee with the promise of sending the money back soon after - never delivered on any account.
Scammers used physical mail or phone calls to con their victims in the past. But with technology moving at such a rapid pace and online dating becoming more commonplace than ever before, they're using these platforms as vehicles for finding potential marks.
They'll often create an attractive fake profile to lure people into thinking that this could be "the one." Once you've been hooked by what seems like genuine interest from your date, they'll start asking about you transferring fiat money or cryptocurrency to them. There's always something fishy going on.
The Federal Trade Commission has seen an increase in romance scams over the last three years, with people losing more money on them than any other fraud reported. These dating app-focused schemes increased among all age groups and reached USD304 million in 2019 alone - a 50% rise from previous years.
So, How Do You Avoid Being Scammed? The Red Flags to Look Out For!
1. "Trusted" Profiles
They say that love is a game of cat and mouse, but this goes double when you're the one who's being pursued.
You fall for their tricks. Crypto romance scammers will create multiple profiles on different sites using stolen images, and it doesn't take long before they find someone willing to be caught up in their scheme.
Scammers use catfishing techniques to make their victims trust them and steal information or funds from you. They may pose as medical professionals, aid workers, or even military personnel who seem trustworthy enough for your loved one's sake.
Always ensure you have the correct details of the person you're dating online. With that, you won't be so bothered if they don't show up for a date or turn it down at the last minute. Google them, look up online phone directories, reverse image search (here's Google's guide on this)! The Washington Post has a good guide on spotting photoshopped images too.
Another tell-tale sign that someone might not be who they say they are is poor English. Scammers often pretend to come from somewhere other than where their accent indicates. For example, an American claims he's British but doesn't know much about the local culture.
But there are ways around these tricks: just out-clever them by learning facts, specifically nearby places (or countries); ask them questions regarding things such as current events - they'll get stuck sooner than later.
2. They Hook You with Some Common Interests
Scammers are always one step ahead of you. They know what to say and how much information is enough for them. So they can start a conversation with anyone without having met before. Once their target opens up about themselves (especially on hobbies, work, or religion), it's game over.
These criminals will use details revealed in conversation as ammunition against your defences later down the line when you're trying to convince others that they've been trustworthy - all the while steadily progressing towards achieving their goal: snatching dollars outta ya.
The era of senior romance fraud is alive and well. In 2020, scammers targeted older adults (aged 60+) with over USD139 million in scams - 65% greater than 2019's losses, nearly USD84 million. This report released by the Federal Trade Commission indicates that these criminals are targeting their victims through online dating sites or social media groups since pandemic solitude drove many individuals online in pursuit of love and affection.
3. They Become Overly Emotional Very Quickly
The fake relationship is quick-paced and intense. It's like existing in a race against time, always attempting to win ground before your opponent.
Romance scammers are go-getters to the extent that if they meet potential victims who may be more cautious than themself, they may try to win their trust by employing tricks. One common trick is to intentionally send small amounts of money, gifts, or crypto to their victims to nurture a breeding ground for their scam.
The dating world is a tricky one. It's easy to get seized by the moment and start chatting with someone who seems like your perfect match, but it can also lead you down an unpleasant path of manipulation.
So many times, scammers will shower their victim's romantic affection every minute, messaging them constantly until they feel lovesick enough that they cave in to whatever demands they make on their time (or lives).
4. Asking for Money
Do you know those people who always ask for small amounts of money to fix their car? Well, this often starts very innocently. Romance scammers will begin similarly. But then it quickly ramps up from there. A common way these perpetrators happen upon targeting someone is by setting out on an adventure-filled trip where they claim to need financial assistance with expenses like flights or other travel costs necessary before visiting "family."
The romance scammer will often ask for money, sometimes sent via Western Union. They may claim medical costs or any other excuse and use urgency as their argument when requesting funds from you, often claiming that if they don't receive the payment immediately, something terrible might happen.
One American woman recently fell victim this way with USD260k worth of requests made on her Skype account alone after meeting what seemed like an ideal match online.
In a bid to nab these perpetrators, Western Union has taken a new stance on the issue of money transfers. They've been held accountable by regulatory bodies, which means they must be stricter with those using their services.
However, this doesn't mean you should send your personal details out blindly without thinking hard about who will receive them. Always do some research before sending any sensitive data online, or better yet, don't send any.
5. Asking You To Do Suspicious Activities
Romance scammers are experts at tricks and schemes to steal money, goods, or life. One British woman named Sharon Armstrong learned she had been duped when the dating site she met someone on ended up sending police because they thought their client might be transporting drugs across countries!
There's no telling what these criminals will ask you do.
The best way around this?
Don't fall victim; always stay alert wherever online conversations take place.
Suppose someone asks you to do something suspicious, like send or receive money for them on behalf of an unknown person. It's probably not legitimate. But if you have to do it, do your due diligence to know the intentions behind who is asking before you complete any agreement.
6. Introducing You to Relatives, Business Partners, etc.
Scammers are clever, creative people with oily palms who stop at nothing. They're often organised in groups or posing as different characters to get their hooks into you early on so they can use your trust for personal gain later down the line. And this often happens too soon after meeting someone. Be aware of other people they introduce you to. It might just be another con job waiting around every corner.
7. Making Broken Promises
The romance scammer is always good at making promises and having excuses for not following through. They can be so elaborate that it seems believable, which leads them to ask for more from you.
The scammers are skilled at baiting their victims with promises of visits from loved ones, only to dash those hopes when they don't show up. They might give an excuse like not having enough money for a passport or ticket - but most importantly, it's all about making you feel desperate enough that sending more cash won't matter.
Covid-19 was the perfect cover for predators trying to scam others. Before, schemers had all manner of excuses not to meet up in person. Those cancellations could alert some folks of dangers awaiting them, but then there came the pandemic, which gave scammers ample reason why social distancing guidelines should keep these relationships online only.
What Signs Should You Be Aware of Concerning Crypto Romance Scams?
When it comes to crypto romance scams, there are a few key signs that you should be aware of.
- Sense of Urgency: Fraudsters will usually try to create a sense of urgency to get you to act fast. They might tell you they need money for an emergency or need to transfer their crypto assets out of the country quickly.
- Lavish Promises: Fraudsters will usually promise their victims love and happiness - things that are hard to resist.
- Endless Need of Money: The fraudsters might be asking for more money than you would typically expect for the reason they've given. If you fail to send money immediately, calls and messages become direct, persistent, or desperate.
- Conflicting Stories of Sudden Changes in Behavior: If something doesn't seem right, it probably isn't. Trust your gut instinct. If something feels too good to be true, it might be - so be careful.
- Baseless Explanations: Be extra vigilant about the reasons why someone is asking for personal information like BitPrime account details, bank account details, and email account passwords. NEVER give these details out.
What Clues/Pointers Should You Be Aware of Concerning Crypto Romance Scams?
Online dating scams are a real problem. Scammers are getting more and more sophisticated. Many people fall for the trap of romance scammers, and this can have devastating consequences in their lives.
Scammers aren't just preying on lonely old ladies looking for love online anymore. They're coming after you too. If you've been using online dating sites or apps like Tinder, Bumble, and OkCupid to find your soulmate, you need to be aware that there are many scammers out there waiting to rob you blind or in broad daylight.
You can prevent crypto romance scams from affecting you by identifying the clues that indicate whether your new friend is fake or not. These scams are becoming increasingly common in the crypto community because scammers know how much money people have made from cryptocurrencies lately.
We'll teach you what clues to look out for so that you don't get caught up in one of these scams.
Keep Your Profile Anonymous:
It's essential to be careful when sharing personal information with people you don't know. Reports have shown scammers are explicitly looking for webcam footage of a private nature as blackmail material against potential victims.
The risks of cryptocurrency investment are high, so don't invest money you can't afford to lose. You should also never base decisions on what someone says in an internet chat room or message board. Always do your research and remember this is real life.
Authenticate the Source of Their Profile Pictures:
Be sure to do a Google Image search on the photos provided (previously mentioned above). Scammers are known for using fake images, so make sure you look at what belongs in this instance.
Identity theft is a huge problem, with the FBI estimating that over 16 million people have been victims in just one year. The organisation goes as far as to advise that you should never send money to someone you've met online, primarily via wire transfer, money order, global funds transfer or crypto. The agency further advises consumers not to share credit card numbers or bank account information, which could give access to financial accounts.
Change of Platforms:
Online dating is a great way to find someone with whom you share common interests and values. But what if an admirer asks for personal communication outside of the website? That could be a sign that they're trying hard not to get caught. So watch out! And remember, in-person meetings should take place at public places where there are plenty of people around who don't know about your relationship yet, or else it might end up being more than just business meetings between the two of you.
Some scammers out there are trying to steal your money by claiming they need access to your accounts for fraud detection. Don't fall victim. If you think this has happened, contact your bank immediately so it can be blocked from accessing any funds on the account before making a withdrawal or sending payments. If someone calls asking about security precautions when handling credit card numbers over phone lines, then beware, as most likely, they're not really from your bank!
What Action to Take If You Fall Prey to Crypto Romance Scam
Take these steps to protect yourself from confidence scams and romance fraud.
BitPrime has crime-fighting tips for innocent victims. It recommends reporting:
- Any instances where you've been taken advantage of or scammed by someone who claims they love, support & trust in you but is only looking at your money (or valuables).
- Alert the fraud to website administrators where the connection first occurred.
- Inform the police on 111 for emergencies or 105 for non-emergencies.
- Inform your financial institution if you suspect any fraudulent activity
- Change passwords to your BitPrime account, internet banking, and email account to a strong, unique one.
- Share the experience with a trusted friend or family member - a problem shared is a problem halved.
- However, if you have any questions or concerns regarding crypto-related scams, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a confidential discussion.
Crypto Romance Scams are a real thing. Don't let the fact that you're hearing about it for the first time make you think they don't exist.
We want to help keep your heart from being broken; that's why you should learn what to avoid. It is not difficult to avoid being scammed when you know the red flags, signs, and clues that signal a potential scam. The more informed you are about what to look for in your dating life, the better off you will be.
Keep these points in mind next time you're searching for love online. And now that you know, there's no need for any more scams. Stay safe out there this Valentine's Day by following these simple guidelines.
Happy hunting in your endeavour to find a sweetheart that will never run off with your money.
About the author:
Verolian Opiyo is a force to be reckoned with. He's an irreverent copywriter, an avid technology fan and a Climate Change enthusiast. Verolian is on a mission to stamp out gobbledygook and make boring business blogs sparkle. When he's not busy making the world a more readable place, he enjoys spending time penning down climate issues on his blog Greenvoz.com.
The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only. Do not take this as personalised financial advice or investment advice. The views expressed by the author do not necessarily represent the opinion of BitPrime.
Last updated: 26/01/2022