Crypto Romance Scams: Avoid These Dating App Swindlers

Scamming daters out of their cryptocurrency has become a cottage industry. According to a February 2022 Federal Trade Commission study, romance fraudsters defrauded consumers of $139 million in cryptocurrencies last year (FTC). Crypto romance scammers do not only target people who are actively looking for dates on dating apps such as Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge. They may message you on Instagram or WhatsApp and claim it was an error.

Crypto dating scams are not as evident as so-called Nigerian prince scams, in which a stranger emails you with an offer of money. According to research, Nigerian prince scammers purposefully make their scams evident in order to weed out those who would never fall for it in the first place. Crypto dating scammers devote a significant amount of time to their victims, developing a relationship until they believe trust has been developed and the victim is ready to be exploited. The majority of crypto dating scams follow a pattern known as “pig butchering,” or “sha zhu pan” () in Chinese, so-called because scammers constantly flatter and make their victims feel good before duping them, similar to how a farmer fattens a pig before slaughter.

Scammers in many reported cases spend weeks or months in a relationship before bringing up cryptocurrency and the possibilities it offers. Crypto scams can affect anyone who uses the internet, not only those who have crypto investments. Forth reality, scammers put in a lot of effort to take you through your first cryptocurrency buy through respectable exchanges like Coinbase or Binance. This form of psychological manipulation is known as “social engineering,” and socially engineered crypto scams target even tech-savvy crypto project founders.

Before cryptocurrency became the preferred method of payment for pig butchers, scammers persuaded victims to purchase online gift cards. These cards provided less consumer protection than cash transfers, making them ideal for scammers. Then crypto arrived, promising self-storage and little to no client protection – even better! Some scams are as basic as being duped into sending cryptocurrency to strangers who have gained the trust of their victims. The classic adage of not sending gift cards to strangers on the internet also applies to cryptocurrency. However, there are alternative methods of scamming that do not even require the victim to give cryptocurrency to the fraudster.

In a more advanced form, scammers may assist you in transferring cryptocurrency from your centralized exchange account, such as Coinbase, to Ethereum using a crypto wallet, such as MetaMask. Crypto wallets are a new technology, and they aren’t the most user-friendly tools for beginners. They will not display what you are about to sign in human-readable language, let alone warn you of any red flags. If you sign a malicious contract through your wallet once you have your crypto on-chain, you risk having funds swindled out of your addresses. Approach links requesting approval using MetaMask with caution, especially if they come from affectionate online strangers who won’t display their faces.

Victims of cryptocurrency dating scams frequently complain that their online partner refuses to meet them in person or video chat them because they are bashful and not ready yet. In actuality, this is due to scammers using images of other individuals to construct convincing internet profiles. A reverse image search of such photographs can assist you confirm the person’s identity. To do so, grab the suspected scammer’s photo/s and utilize Google’s reverse image search or TinEye – you may upload the photo and search by that image using the camera icon on Google or the upload button on TinEye.

If no match is found, it does not always indicate that the photos do not belong to that individual; the photos could have been obtained from a private social media profile that the fraudster had access to. However, some con artists are too sophisticated to exploit actual people’s images. They may also employ AI-generated photographs of non-existent persons, as one fraudulent crypto project creator did. As difficult as it may be to not trust your emotions when looking for love, it’s critical to remain watchful and wary, especially if money comes up in conversation with anyone you’ve met online, otherwise, you’ll wind up not only hurt but also broke.