The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is alerting crypto owners about online romance scams that have cost investors over $133,400,000 in the first seven months of 2021 alone.
Between January 1 and July 31, more than 1,800 people reported being defrauded by fake romantic partners claiming to be knowledgeable about crypto investing in order to get victims to send them digital assets, according to an FBI public service announcement.
The Bureau says that fraudsters find their victims on dating or social media websites, gain their confidence by developing online relationships, and then offer them deceitful investment opportunities with promises of big returns.
According to the FBI, the scammers direct their victims to fraudulent trading platforms in order to perform the scheme.
“After the victim has invested an initial amount on the platform and sees an alleged profit, the scammers allow the victim to withdraw a small amount of money, further gaining the victim’s trust.
After the successful withdrawal, the scammer instructs the victim to invest larger amounts of money and often expresses the need to ‘act fast.’ When the victim is ready to withdraw funds again, the scammers create reasons why this cannot happen.
The victim is informed additional taxes or fees need [to be] paid, or the minimum account balance has not been met to allow a withdrawal. This entices the victim to provide additional funds.”
Once the victim refuses to send any more funds, the scammer ends the “relationship” and is never heard from again.
The scammers’ tactics were detailed in another statement from the FBI’s Oregon branch. The FBI asks victims to report these crimes to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.
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