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Authorities Pull Down Sites Linked to Crypto Scams Orchestrated Through Dating Apps

Gonzalez reveals heartbreaking losses, warns against trusting lucrative crypto offers.
Cover Image Source: Crypto Scams | Pexels | Photo by Iam Hogir
Cover Image Source: Crypto Scams | Pexels | Photo by Iam Hogir

The crypto space isn't just marred by volatility due to fluctuating and unregulated prices, but it has also been hit by scams on a massive scale, some even involving major exchages. In a decisive move against online fraudsters, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced the shutdown of twenty-one websites linked to crypto scams, dealing a blow to cyber criminals who prey on unsuspecting victims through bogus cryptocurrency investments. Termed as "pig butchering" schemes, these fraudulent operations lured victims into fake investments after gaining their trust through various online platforms, such as dating apps.

Pexels | Photo by Anna Tarazevich
Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Anna Tarazevich

Addressing the press, Gonzalez emphasized the severity of these scams, which target individuals nationwide, resulting in staggering losses amounting to billions of dollars annually. "Pig butchering is a growing type of scam that defrauds residents of Brooklyn and the entire country out of billions of dollars every year," he stated.

The prosecutor also urged the public to exercise caution and skepticism when encountering enticing crypto investment opportunities that seem too good to be true. He cautioned netizens against downloading applications from unverified sources, as they could potentially be used to facilitate fraudulent activities.

Last year, the New York Police Department received fifty complaints related to online crypto scams, although Gonzalez suspects the actual number of victims is significantly higher due to underreporting. Victims often feel ashamed of reporting the crime, and this makes it challenging to accurately assess the scale of the problem.

In Brooklyn alone, victims who have come forward reported losses exceeding $4 million. During a press conference, the district attorney recounted distressing stories of individuals losing substantial sums of money, sometimes their entire life savings or even mortgaging their homes to invest in fraudulent schemes.

Pexels | Photo by RDNE Stock project
Image Source: Pexels | Photo by RDNE Stock project

One victim, a 51-year-old woman, disclosed that she lost $22,680 after being added to online chat groups promoting crypto investments. Initially, her account balance appeared to soar to $387,495, but when she attempted to withdraw her initial investment, she was instructed to pay taxes, before being removed from the chat group.

Further investigation revealed additional victims of the same fraudulent scheme from California, Pennsylvania, and Illinois, collectively lost $366,665, as disclosed by Gonzalez.

In a video shared by the district attorney's office, another woman, who chose to remain anonymous, recounted her experience with the scam. She revealed that the scammer initially contacted her through a dating app, where his charming demeanor instilled a sense of security and trust in her.

The woman, who was in the process of buying out her former husband from their home, admitted to initially hesitating when the scammer proposed investing in cryptocurrency. However, she ultimately succumbed to the persuasion, investing $118,000 from a personal loan and her pension, only to fall victim to the scam.

Image Source: Photo by Nathan Cowley |Pexels
Image Source: Photo by Nathan Cowley | Pexels

According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), cryptocurrency and investment scams have emerged as the most dangerous forms of fraud in the United States, with fraudsters adept at deceiving victims out of significant sums of money.

Based on an analysis of 67,000 scam complaints, the BBB, in its annual report on the Largest Scams of 2023, highlighted the ingenuity of scammers in duping investors. Approximately 80% of Americans who fell prey to crypto and investment scams last year suffered financial losses, with the median amount lost being $3,800.