Dating app encounter leads to $450,000 cryptocurrency romance scam



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Shreya Datta, a tech professional from Philadelphia, was defrauded of nearly $450,000 through a cryptocurrency romance scam known as “pig butchering.” 

A new scam involving fraudsters who feign romantic interest to trick the victim into investing in nonexistent cryptocurrencies is gaining in popularity.

The latest scam targeted a woman from Philadelphia who matched with a man named “Ancel” on the dating app Hinge. Claiming to be a French wine trader, Ancel moved their conversation to WhatsApp, where they exchanged selfies and messages.

Ancel convinced Datta to invest in a fraudulent crypto trading app, leading her to drain her savings, take out loans, and liquidate her retirement fund, believing her investment had more than doubled.

However, when attempting to withdraw her funds, she was met with demands for a personal tax payment, raising her suspicions. Further investigation by Datta’s brother revealed Ancel’s photographs were of a German fitness influencer, exposing the scam.

The incident left Datta emotionally devastated, suffering from PTSD symptoms and the loss of her financial security. Cryptocurrency romance scams like Datta’s have surged, with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center reporting over 40,000 cases and losses exceeding $3.5 billion in 2023. These scams often involve sophisticated tactics, including the use of deepfake videos and AI-generated profiles, making them particularly challenging for victims to detect and for authorities to combat.

Law enforcement agencies and dating platforms are struggling to address the rise in such scams, with victims frequently not reporting their experiences due to shame. The scams are linked to transnational criminal organizations that exploit trafficked individuals to execute these schemes, funneling stolen funds overseas.

Another incident reported by Crypto.news involved a Minnesota man who was deceived through a scam that began on LinkedIn. He was led to believe he was making a lucrative crypto investment driven by feigned romantic interest.

Statistics reveal a worrying trend in the prevalence of romance scams. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports that tens of thousands have been impacted, with losses amounting to billions of dollars annually. Particularly alarming is the vulnerability of senior citizens, who tend to suffer more substantial losses. The FTC notes that the median loss for the elderly significantly exceeds that of other age groups, indicating that these scams are not only widespread but also particularly devastating to older individuals.


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