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Crypto romance scams: What to watch out for this Valentine’s

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Crypto romance scams: What to watch out for this Valentine’s

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The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has issued a warning against what they dub as romance scams. The FBI define a ‘romance scam’ as a scam where a malicious actor creates a fake account and tries to lure victims with the prospects of a romantic relationship online. The scamster then proceeds to convince them into transferring funds. The scam victims can be both men and women.

Crypto romance scams: What to watch out for this Valentine’s
With the rapid rise of cryptocurrencies, scamsters are using every trick in the book to steal them. They take advantage of gullible investors who jump into the market without proper knowledge or research. And as we step into the Valentine’s week, it’s the romantics that may be the prime targets of scamsters.
The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has issued a warning against what they dub as romance scams. This warning comes off the heel of various complaints filed with the agency’s Internet Crime Complaint Centre (IC3) in the Sans Francisco Bay area. Victims within just the FBI San Francisco division’s territory lost more than $64 million to romance scams compared to just over $35 million in 2020, according to the FBI report.
The FBI define a ‘romance scam’ as a scam where a malicious actor creates a fake account and tries to lure victims with the prospects of a romantic relationship online. The scamster then proceeds to convince them into transferring funds. The scam victims can be both men and women.
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But romance scams are not limited to the Sans Francisco area. There have been reports by US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that show that romance scams have been happening all over the country and across all age groups.
The reported losses suffered by unsuspecting victims totalled roughly $547 million in 2021, per a Bitcoinist article. The median loss reported by individuals increased with age. Those aged 70 or above older reported median losses of $9,000, while for those between 18 and 29 it was around $750, the Bitcoinist said quoting the FTC.
The IC3 have received over 20,000 complaints regarding romance scams in 2020 alone. This was mostly confined to the Sans Francisco area.
“The FBI San Francisco has seen a rising trend in which romance scammers are persuading individuals to send money to invest or trade cryptocurrency,” the FBI warning read.
What is a typical romance scam like?
A romance scam appears to be innocent interaction with the scammer first establishing trust and dependency with the potential victim. After gaining the victim’s trust, the scammer will present them with a fraudulent investment opportunity using a fake or dubious platform. The victims may be coaxed into making frequent additional investments.
The scamsters advice the victims against withdrawing any investments citing fees/charges on withdrawal or minimum balance requirements. The scam may also involve sending the victims a text message with a link to cancel withdrawals. The link leads users to a fake website designed to harvest their login credentials, per a Cointelegraph report.
The scamsters may also weave multiple stories including pleas for help while claiming health or financial emergencies.
How to avoid romance scams?
The FBI said people should be careful and not take investment advice from entities they have only known through online interactions. It also warned against sharing any financial information with the people you meet online.
The FBI urged people to be “cautious of individuals who claim to have exclusive investment opportunities and urge you to act fast.”
According to reports from the FTC, online dating is one of the biggest playgrounds for scammers. People have reported losing more than $1.3 billion due to romance scams over the last five years. According to the FTC, the popularity of cryptocurrency is accelerating romance scams.
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