The Internet is a powerful and transformative network, from sprouting innovative technologies to bridging an accessible digital economy. As a public and global system, the Internet also connects people from all corners of the world, and with that can come a search for romance – some meeting their match, others unknowingly entranced by an investment scheme.
Commonly come across is the crypto romance scam, which refers to fraudsters forging a romantic relationship to manipulate a victim into handing over their crypto investments. This type of fraud is also called “pig butchering,” alluding to scammers “fattening up” their victims with flattery and false affection before draining their funds—not a great Friday night. 🙁
And with a total of 19,050 victims reported losing a staggering $739,030,292 to romance scammers in 2022 (not to mention the vast number of unreported frauds), romance scams top the list as one of the highest reported financial losses.
To protect yourself and your savings, we share some common warning signs that a crypto scam might be occurring.
The start of the scam
Millions of people use dating apps or social media to form new relationships. And with AI entering the picture, scammers are even better equipped at shaping and disguising their true identities.
Often using a fake online profile, such as posing as a successful entrepreneur or an overseas CEO, the scammer contacts the victim and works to gain their interest and trust with excessive flattery called “love bombing.” They gradually inflate the victim's self-esteem until a bond forms before the scammer suggests moving to an encrypted messaging platform, reducing their risks of getting reported.
With the victim’s heart hooked, the exploitation begins. The scammer is suddenly struck by a financial emergency and urgently needs help in the form of a money transfer, gift card, or cryptocurrency. Or they may foster a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) by flaunting their extravagant lifestyle supposedly earned through savvy cryptocurrency investments.
They encourage the victim to try their hand at crypto, sometimes luring them to a fake crypto exchange platform until the victim wires over funds or shares their PIN codes. Once they’ve robbed the victim of their cash or crypto, the scammer disappears.
How to keep yourself safe online
✅ Only download apps from trusted sources.
When visiting a site or installing an app from Apple, Google Play Store, or another platform, make sure the source is legitimate before sharing sensitive information such as your phone number or email address. Malicious software can monitor your activity or steal your personal information including passwords, contacts, or financial accounts.
🔎 Investigate the person’s profile.
Always validate identities and ask questions. You can uncover a lot by putting a profile picture into a reverse image search. The system will reveal whether the image has been used before and if the details match the identity. Keep in mind that images can also be AI-generated, photoshopped, or a “deepfake,” where an existing image or video is used to create a fake yet believable picture or video.
🔐 Protect your information and the keys to your crypto.
Some cryptocurrency platforms like Olliv are self-custodial, meaning you have full control and ownership over your assets. But that also means it’s up to you to protect your information and the private keys used to access your digital wallet. These keys are the only way to access your crypto funds.
Never send money to someone you’ve never met or don’t fully trust, because once crypto is transacted or transferred, the action cannot be reversed, and identities are untraceable.
Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.