- 24-year-old Nicole is now counting losses worth $390K after falling for a crypto romance scam run through online dating site Hinge.
- Chainalysis reports that such cases have been quite common in recent times, with over $7.7 million in crypto stolen by online scammers.
A woman has now lost $390,000 of her inheritance and her father’s life savings to a crypto romance scam. According to a report by CBS News, Nicole Hutchinson, 24, was lured into a fraudulent crypto investment scheme by an individual playing the part of a potential romantic partner.
Nicole had just pocketed $280,000 – half the amount from the sale of her deceased mother’s house. Her father had the other half. The two planned to use the money to pay for their needs, including Nicole’s grandmother’s assisted living bills, and Nicole’s father’s retirement fund. Nicole would also gain financial support to start her own life.
Unfortunately, all these plans were thwarted soon after Nicole moved to California. On the online dating platform Hinge, Nicole met a man by the name “HAO.” He took his time to present a friendly front, even telling her they came from the same town in China.
HAO went on to share his hobbies, with cryptocurrency being one of them. When Nicole expressed her naivety in the topic, the scammer reassured her, saying:
This is my field. I can be your teacher.
Woman robbed of inheritance in crypto romance scam
Afterward, he guided her to open a legitimate account on Crypto.com. He then sent her a link to a “crypto exchange platform” for her to make cash deposits. The links have now been revealed to be the scammer’s digital wallets. Nicole began “investing” small amounts but soon leveled up to tens of thousands of dollars, with one deposit totaling over $70,000. HAO continued to encourage her, saying the money would be of great help to her family.
Nicole’s account soon began registering lucrative profits, at which point she asked her father to join in. By December, the two had a collective balance of $1.2 million. Reality hit home when they attempted to withdraw the funds, only to be asked to pay a hefty “tax bill” of roughly $380,000.
Nicole and her father are not the only victims of crypto fraud schemes. Statistics from blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis reveal that globally, scammers made away with over $7.7 million in cryptocurrency last year. Rich Sanders, an investigator of crypto scams, says there is a surge in crypto romance scams, warning that, “Anybody that is trying hard to try and get you to invest in cryptocurrencies has a motive.”
Sanders referred to Nicole’s case as a “pig butchering scam,” where, like a butcher, the scammer patiently works their victims before moving in for a kill. He estimates that money moving to the scamming address, likely from other victims, was at least $20 million. Sanders also says the ploy was likely the work of an Asian organized ring of scammers that preys on inexperienced victims.