Mix in romance scams, one of the oldest cons that exist, with modern hacking tools and cryptocurrency, and what it results in is a new rising trend, CryptoRom. Recently romance scams have jumped into the spotlight due to the Netflix show Tinder Swindler. However, Tinder romance scams usually involve in-person interaction, while digital romance cons only engage in virtual “romancing” relationships.
Digital romance cons are particularly concerning for the security sector. They affect millions of victims and usually occur beyond national borders, making it nearly impossible to resolve or restitution of stolen funds. Romance scammers are also known for being merciless. They do not usually target low sums of money but go after a victim’s entire life savings.
Sophos, an expert security software and hardware company, says that CryptoRom attacks are increasing and continue targeting vulnerable iPhone and Android users. CrytpoRom’s trend began with a focus on Asian victims but is now expanding globally. Hackers and scammers are not only using deep-fakes but also creating sophisticated mirror-like e-wallets that look like Robin Hood, Coinbase and others.
Ruining Lives, Here’s How That Works
The trick is simple, scammers create a fake social media profile, generally female, and seduce their victim into a virtual romantic relationship. After establishing trust, they bring in their modern hacker tool-kits. Then, they direct victims to replica sites of known e-wallets and convince them to invest with them in these accounts. But, of course, the e-wallet is fake, and the scammer will up the numbers of the victim’s balance, making them believe the investment is reaping gains, so they put more money in.
The problem starts when the victim wants to make a withdrawal. When victims try to withdraw, they receive a communication from the fake e-wallet site that says they need to pay 20 percent in tax to retrieve the money. If the victim refuses to pay the additional tax, the phony site sends them a second communication saying the investment will be considered criminal tax evasion and reported to authorities. When the victim contacts the scammer that seduced them for help, he will offer to pay a small part of the percentage to “help out.”
But the attack does not end there. Once the victim loses all their funds, they are contacted by another scammer that promises they can recover their funds. But, of course, the funds are never recovered. CryptoRom scams are very sophisticated and signal to a complex criminal organization behind the curtain. To keep safe, always verify that the person you are talking to online is real, check web addresses, and verify the e-wallet before investing or depositing funds in crypto sites. Never trust suspicious emails, and report scams and threats. And finally, to keep things real, always ask yourself when starting a virtual digital romance, what’s love got to do with crypto?
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