By Markus David
Director of Professional Services
Crypto-romance scams are a new and dangerous form of online fraud that targets lonely and vulnerable people looking for love and money, especially now in Australia. In this blog post, we will explain what crypto-romance scams are, how they work, and how to avoid them.
What Are Crypto-Romance Scams?
Crypto-romance scams are a combination of romance scams and cryptocurrency scams. In romance scams, someone pretends to be interested in a romantic relationship with another person who they usually meet through online platforms such as dating apps, social media, or chat rooms. The scammer then asks for money or personal information from the victim, often using emotional manipulation, fake stories, or promises of a future together.
In a cryptocurrency scam, the owner of crypto is deceived into sending or investing money in digital currencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, or Dogecoin. The scammer may use various techniques, such as phishing, fake websites, fake apps, fake ads, or fake testimonials, to lure the victim into believing that they can make a profit or benefit from the transaction.
Crypto-romance scams combine these two types of fraud by using romance as a pretext to get the victim to send or invest money in cryptocurrency. The scammer may claim that they need money for an emergency, a business opportunity, a travel plan, or a gift. They may also persuade the victim to open a cryptocurrency account or wallet and share their login details or private keys. The scammer then transfers the money or coins to their own account and disappears.
How Do Crypto-Romance Scams Work?
Crypto-romance scams usually follow a similar pattern:
- The scammer contacts the victim online and initiates a conversation. They may use a fake name, photo, or profile to appear attractive and trustworthy. They may also claim to have a connection with Australia, such as having parents in Wollongong or running a business in Hong Kong.
- The scammer builds rapport and trust with the victim over time. They may send messages every day, exchange photos and videos, share personal details and interests, and express affection and love. They may also call or video chat with the victim to make them feel more comfortable and attached.
- The scammer asks for money or cryptocurrency from the victim. They may use various excuses, such as needing money to get out of a work contract, having a medical emergency, wanting to visit the victim in Australia, or investing in a lucrative opportunity. They may also pressure the victim to act quickly and not tell anyone about their relationship.
- The scammer receives the money or cryptocurrency from the victim and cuts off contact. They may block the victim’s phone number, email address, or social media account. They may also delete their profile or change their identity to target new victims.
How to Avoid Crypto-Romance Scams?
Crypto-romance scams can be hard to detect and prevent because they exploit people’s emotions and desires. However, there are some signs and tips that can help you avoid becoming a victim:
- Be wary of anyone who contacts you online and claims to have a romantic interest in you. Do not accept friend requests or messages from strangers or people you do not know well.
- Do some research on the person you are talking to online. Check their photos, name, location, and profile for inconsistencies or red flags. Use reverse image search tools such as Google Images or TinEye to see if their photos are stolen from someone else.
- Do not send money or cryptocurrency to anyone you have not met in person. No matter how convincing their story is, do not fall for their requests or demands. Remember that sending money or cryptocurrency online is like sending cash – once it is gone, it is very hard to recover.
- Do not share your personal or financial information with anyone online. Do not give out your bank account details, credit card numbers, passwords, PINs, or private keys. Do not click on any links or download any attachments that they send you.
- Report any suspicious or fraudulent activity to the authorities. If you think you have been scammed or contacted by a scammer, contact your bank, your cryptocurrency provider, and the police as soon as possible. In Australia, you can also report it to Scamwatch (https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/) or ACORN (https://www.acorn.gov.au/).
Crypto-romance scams are a serious threat that lead to significant financial and emotional harm to unsuspecting victims. By being aware of the signs and tips above, you can protect yourself and your loved ones from these ruthless scammers.