Online scams have become so prevalent that we receive potential scam offers and messages nearly every day. Despite most people being aware of these online scams, the scammers come up with new versions, incarnations or methods of attack.
Scammers have now combined romance scams [where the scammer poses as a love interest online, seeking to gain confidence of victim] with crypto scams [the scammer seeks to have the victim invest in fake crypto coins, use fake crypto registry or else obtain access to the victim’s crypto wallet].
With this in mind, be aware of these romance scams and crypto scams approaches:
ROMANCE SCAM AVOIDANCE
- Dating sites – Read the terms
Make the effort to understand the online dating service’s terms of service. Typically, the company is not responsible for vetting users’ identities – meaning the user may be fake. The dating site will urge users to take precautions – limiting the company’s legal liability.
- Go with the don’ts
i) Don’t share personal information such as your address or date of birth,
ii) Avoid users who ask you to leave the site and use personal email addresses,
iii) Never send any money — local and especially overseas, and
iv) Meeting physically in public “If they’re not prepared to meet in person within one month, walk away.”
- Online detective
Utilise your online skills when you come across a prospective date online – such as screening for images being used on other profiles or else text repeated in multiple profiles. Run image searches of profile photos at images.google.com or TinEye.com and paste suspicious text into search engines to see if it’s been used elsewhere. Ask potential matches pointed questions about details they have previously given – scammers are often working multiple potential victims and often slip up what they have told you earlier – mistakes with locations, dates, names etc.
- Protect your visage
The romance scammers will collect face photos from victims to create further fake profiles. Protect yourself from your own photos being posted across the web without your permission – be careful when sharing any photos online.
To entice women, scammers often use photos of men in the military or sports, while attractive young women, particularly models, are used to attract male victims.
- Make a Report
If you encounter a scammer whilst online, immediately report the user to the dating service and your country Internet Crime Complaint Center.
THE ROMANCE SCAMMER’S PLAYBOOK
- Create a fake profile on dating apps to lure potential victims online.
- Once a match is found and relationship blossoms, move the victim chat to a text platform, such as WhatsApp or WeChat.
- Peddle an attractive crypto money-making scheme and persuade unsuspecting victim to invest some money using a fake trading platform.
- Gain victim trust by allowing the person to withdraw a small amount from the platform as alleged profit.
- Seek victim to make bigger investments and encourage victim’s friends to also invest.
- Block the victim once he / she requests for a refund, disappear after pocketing the money and move on to next victim.
TOP TIPS TO AVOID CRYPTO THEFT
- Be suspicious of any get rich quick schemes – from dodgy initial public offerings to unknown crypto coins.
- Do your homework, never rely on information from an online salesperson to supply information.
- If you are not familiar with crypto, avoid getting involved with these offers – likely they are pump and dump schemes.
- Scammers often set up fake wallets or use phony crypto exchanges to steal money – make sure the exchange is centralised, licensed and regulated by the countries where it offers their services
- To avoid crypto theft, store your cryptos in your off exchange ‘cold’ wallet, rather than a wallet on the exchange.
- Be wary of crypto schemes offering unusually high, short-term gains.