Crypto scammers have Americans in their crosshairs as they continue to experiment with different types of scams. And a new report shows those in search of love have become the latest to fall victim.
An analysis by Bankless Times revealed that U.S. citizens are increasingly falling prey to romance crypto scams, with losses reaching highs of $185 million.
The report noted that on average, victims lose $10,000 to romance scammers. And romance scams are now the second most common type of crypto scams.
The romance scammers operate by feigning a romantic interest in the unsuspecting victim and spend time winning their trust over the internet. After gaining the trust of the victim, the next phase in the scheme involves offering advice to the victim on how to invest money in cryptocurrencies.
The scammers often direct victims to deposit funds in fake crypto trading platforms as the last stage in their elaborate plot.
“Victims of romance scams learn the heart is not so smart the hard way,” said Jonathan Merry, Bankless Times CEO. “Their search for love makes them easy pickings for conniving individuals that dupe them out of their money.”
Not just the old falling for scams
The popular misconception is that the elderly are the most susceptible demographic to these crypto romance scams. However, a closer look at the figures shows that the majority of victims are between 20 and 40 years old.
According to Elizabeth Kerr, a financial content expert, individuals in their 30s are the “worst hit” as they suffer a large chunk of the losses. Kerr notes that at the farthest end, individuals in their seventies can lose up to $12,000 to fraudsters.
Other forms of crypto frauds wreaking havoc on individuals in the U.S. are business and government official impersonations. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports that nearly 50,000 Americans have collectively lost $1 billion from the activities of fraudsters.
Keep your guard up at all times
Last year, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released a warning to households in the U.S. on the risks posed by crypto scammers. The warning includes tips to identify crypto romance scammers such as proposing marriage and being involved in the construction industry outside the U.S. to avoid meeting in person.
Tips offered by the FBI include never sending money to anyone you have only communicated online or by phone, and to stop all contact immediately if there is suspicion that an online relationship is a scam.