- Scams are deceptive schemes aiming to defraud individuals of money and/or personal information.
- Romance scams involve scammers forming online relationships, often quickly proclaiming love.
- Rapid relationship progression coupled with a lack of video calls and inability to meet in person may be red flags.
- Once an emotional connection is formed, scammers try to get the victim to invest in a fake crypto project or platform.
- Employ scepticism, research, and common sense to protect against these manipulative tactics.
What Is a Scam?
A scam is a fraudulent or deceptive scheme designed to trick individuals into giving away their money, personal information, and/or other valuable assets. Scammers use various tactics and strategies to manipulate their victims into believing they are dealing with a legitimate opportunity, service, or product, when, in reality, their intentions are dishonest and malicious.
Scams can take many forms, such as fake investment opportunities, phishing emails, pyramid schemes, identity theft, lottery scams, get-rich-quick scams, and more. They often exploit psychological triggers like urgency, fear, greed, or a desire for gain in order to manipulate victims into taking actions that benefit the scammer.
What Are Romance Scams?
Romance scams are another of the traditional scams that have crossed over to the crypto space. In this scam, a con artist forms a relationship with someone they have met online. The relationship usually develops quickly, with professions of love soon made by the scammer.
Once the scammer has tightened their grip over the victim, they tend to employ tactics to extract money, such as distancing themselves; when questioned, they may claim it is due to financial hardship or caring for a sick family member who needs treatment they cannot afford. In other cases, scammers want to meet the victim but cannot afford the trip expenses.
One tell-tale sign, when combined with other factors, is if the scammer never agrees to video calls. An excuse might be something like poor internet connection. In all cases of romance scams, the scammer claims they urgently need funds while promising repayment, which never arrives.
How Romance Scams Work in Detail
A romance scam typically unfolds in several stages, each designed to build trust and emotional connection with the victim while manipulating them into sending money. Below is a detailed breakdown of how a crypto romance scam might work:
Creating a Fake Identity: As with a traditional romance scam, the scammer creates a fake online persona, often portraying themselves as an attractive and successful individual. They might use stolen photos and personal information to make their profile seem authentic.
Initiating Contact: The scammer initiates contact with the victim, possibly on a dating website, social media platform, or through email. They start building a relationship by using flattering language, compliments, and engaging in friendly conversations.
Building Emotional Connection: Similar to traditional romance scams, the scammer spends time building trust and emotional connection with the victim. They share personal stories and experiences, creating a sense of intimacy.
Introduction of Cryptocurrency: As the relationship progresses, the scammer introduces the concept of cryptocurrency, highlighting its potential for high returns. They might talk about their own success in the crypto market to further entice the victim.
Promising Opportunities: The scammer introduces the victim to a supposed ‘opportunity’ in the cryptocurrency market. They claim to have insider information or connections to a lucrative trading platform.
Creating Urgency: To pressure the victim into making a quick decision, the scammer fabricates a sense of urgency. They might claim that the investment opportunity is time-sensitive and the victim needs to act immediately to secure their profits.
Requesting Money: The scammer asks the victim to put money into the cryptocurrency scheme. They might claim that the victim’s initial investment will yield substantial returns within a short period.
Manipulative Tactics: The scammer uses emotional manipulation, promises of a shared future, and the victim’s trust in the supposed romantic relationship to convince them to invest more money. They may also downplay any doubts or concerns raised by the victim.
Fictitious Profits: In some cases, the scammer might show fake screenshots or documents indicating profits from the cryptocurrency investment, aiming to create a false sense of success.
Disappearing Act: After the victim invests a significant amount of money, the scammer may suddenly disappear. They cut off communication, leaving the victim with financial losses and in emotional distress.
How to Avoid Falling for a Romance Scam
- Think rationally rather than emotionally when meeting someone whose behaviour fits the description above or demonstrates other reasons to raise suspicions.
- Never having seen the person (even on a video call) throughout the relationship may be a red flag for scams.
- Relationships that develop very quickly, notably when combined with other factors, are another cause for concern and may signal this type of scam.
- Use reverse image search to see if the scammer is using another person’s photo.
- To hide their identity and location, the scammer often insists on funds being transferred in cryptocurrency, prepaid cards, or gift cards.
For more information on keeping your Crypto.com account safe, read our Essential Security Tips.
To protect yourself from crypto romance scams, it’s important to exercise caution when engaging in online relationships and seemingly great opportunities. Be sceptical of anyone asking to invest in a specific cryptocurrency, especially if it’s tied to a romantic relationship developed online. Verify the legitimacy of crypto platforms, and employ common sense to avoid falling for the tricks of romance scammers.
And always do your own research.
Due Diligence and Do Your Own Research
All examples listed in this article are for informational purposes only. You should not construe any such information or other material as legal, tax, investment, financial, cybersecurity, or other advice. Nothing contained herein shall constitute a solicitation, recommendation, endorsement, or offer by Crypto.com to invest, buy, or sell any coins, tokens, or other crypto assets. Returns on the buying and selling of crypto assets may be subject to tax, including capital gains tax, in your jurisdiction.
Past performance is not a guarantee or predictor of future performance. The value of crypto assets can increase or decrease, and you could lose all or a substantial amount of your purchase price. When assessing a crypto asset, it’s essential for you to do your research and due diligence to make the best possible judgement, as any purchases shall be your sole responsibility.