Crypto Dictionary

Everything You Need to Know About Romance Scams in Crypto

Explore the twisted world of crypto romance scams. Learn the red flags, understand the tactics used, and arm yourself with the knowledge to protect your heart & wallet.

Romance scams have been here since the introduction of online dating services sometime in the 90s. Back then users were much more naive than they are now and it was easy for scammers to secure their yield. Nowadays much of this Romance action involves crypto in one way or another. 

Scammers build fake relationships on dating apps and gain the trust of their victims. Then, once victims feel secure, scammers lure out their crypto with social engineering practices and other malicious acts.

In this article, we will have a closer look at this increasingly popular scam type - what it is, how it works as well as some red flags to look for in the romantic conversation.

TL;DR:

  • Romance scam in crypto is a scheme where scammers create fake relationships with their victims on dating apps and then trick them to hand over their coins.
  • The emotional vulnerability of users on dating apps combined with the anonymity of crypto makes it a perfect setup for scammers.
  • Scammers usually pretend to have harsh living conditions and ask their victims for financial support to cover expenses or get out of debt.
  • Common signs: refusing to meet up in person, appearing too good to be true, making up false promises, painting a difficult life situation, and often bringing up crypto.

What are Crypto Romance Scams?

A romance scam is a set of practices and schemes aiming to persuade victims on online dating services to voluntarily give out their coins to scammers. Romance scams usually involve creating a fake persona on a dating service like Tinder, Hinge, or Bumble. This persona then initiates romantic conversations and forms bonds with their victim.

Such conversations may last up to several months, during which the fake persona gains the trust of its victims. Once a bond is established scammers whip out fake scenarios in order to lure money (usually in the form of crypto) out of their victims.

Crypto + Online Dating Combo

This combination of aspects is the perfect environment for scammers. Many users of online dating services have an open and trusting approach often motivated by the vision of finding a partner. Scammers naturally make use of this by giving the victims exactly what they desire. Crypto adds the benefit of anonymity and untraceability, which scammers rely on heavily. 

How Crypto Romance Scams Work

The basis of every successful romance scam begins with a trustworthy fake persona. Oftentimes nothing unusual catches your attention - they may have legit-looking photographs, likable bio, great interests, and so on.

Scammer always initiates the conversations, pretending to have a romantic or other interest in the victim. If the hook is successful, scammers continue to build and strengthen the relationship as long as possible. An important distinguishing feature is that scammers will always find an excuse not to meet in person.

Most Common Psychology Plays

After the bond is strong enough, scammers reveal their final act - they start asking for small favors. These can appeal to the goodwill of the victim, or just straight-up blackmail them. Here are some of the common psychological plays that scammers use in these situations:

  • Helping with medical expenses for their family.
  • Helping them to get out of debt, which accumulates rapidly.
  • Covering their travel expenses to visit you.
  • An emergency situation that requires unexpected expenses.
  • Threatening you to reveal intimate photos or personal details.
  • Casually offering a promising investment or business opportunity

These are just examples, but be aware that scammers come up with new scenarios very fast and they tend to be very believable. That is why you should familiarize yourselves with the following section on how to spot this kind of behavior early enough.

Here you can see a made-up example of how such a conversation with a romance scammer may look like:

Another example (this one is real) illustrates a fake investment or business opportunity. The scammer should continue with some kind of proposal with entrance fee:

This is also a real example of a late-phase scam, where the scammer tries to persuade the victim to send him $50K as a proof of her love.

Protecting your Coins and Sanity

While scammers' stories may sound likable it is important to keep our feet firmly on the ground and not fall for their acts. This may be especially difficult in the case of romance scams because victims often have great hopes in their “partners” and they very much want to believe their stories.

Fortunately, there are several points you can focus on in determining if the person you are communicating with is legitimate:

  • Relationship moving very fast - They may have expressed affection too much or too early on.
  • Refusing to meet up in person - Meeting with you would mean an end to their charade. Scammers will always come up with new excuses.
  • Breaking promises - Giving the victim a false hope of a better future by creating fake promises is a powerful manipulative tool.
  • Far away and inaccessible - Scammers are always inaccessible due to external conditions, such as work or military service.
  • Difficult life conditions - To build empathy and pity, scammers often illustrate their persona as going through a harsh living conditions, which makes you more likely to provide financial help.

Red Flags in Communication

If your “partner” asks you to help them out financially - especially using an anonymous cryptocurrency it should instantly spark your attention. Scammers carefully construct the requests to sound reasonable so an extra dose of critical thinking is definitely in place.

Another major red flag can stem from the fact that they initiated the conversation in the first place. Do they also text you first every single time? Great, but also consider some safety measures. Remember that if the situation seems too good to be true it probably is. 

FAQs

What are the red flags of a romance scammer?

Romance scammers are experts in emotional manipulation, but they often exhibit several key red flags. They may express strong emotions or feelings of love very early in the relationship, often before they've even met you in person. They may also be reluctant to meet in person or via a video call, instead preferring text-based conversations. Another sign is the push for private communication, insisting on moving the conversation off the dating platform to emails or text messages.

What questions to ask a romance scammer?

It can be challenging to identify a romance scammer through questions because they are often skilled liars. However, specific questions can help reveal inconsistencies in their stories. Ask about their job, where they're based, and their past. If they claim to be from your country but are currently overseas, ask about local details that a resident would know. Ask them to video chat or meet in person, as scammers usually avoid face-to-face contact. Also, pay attention to vague or evasive responses, which can be an additional red flag.

Will a romance scammer call you on your phone?

While most romance scammers prefer text-based communication for maintaining their guise, some may call you on your phone. However, they typically avoid video calls where you could see their face and realize they do not match their profile photos. If they're calling from an international number or an unknown location when they claim to be local, this discrepancy could be a sign of a scam.

What does a romance scammer want?

The primary goal of a romance scammer is usually financial gain. They use the guise of a romantic or personal relationship to gain trust and manipulate victims into sending money, sharing personal information, or helping in fraudulent activities. In the context of a crypto romance scam, the scammer may also be after your cryptocurrency investments or trying to convince you to invest in a fake crypto scheme. Always be cautious when someone you've met online starts asking for money or discussing investment opportunities.

Disclaimer: The content of this piece reflects the writer's opinion. This article is not intended to provide financial advice and is meant solely for entertainment and educational purposes. Investing in cryptocurrency involves significant risk. Capital is at risk, and returns are not guaranteed. Always conduct your own research.

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