Remember when one of the red flags of online dating was a money request through Western Union? Well, those days are not completely over yet, but there is a new red flag to be wary of, and new payment of choice among online scammers: bitcoin.
Cryptocurrencies have become one of the most profitable scam payment methods to be aware of in 2022, so pay attention to this warning and remain vigilant if your online relationship gets to a point where bitcoin or crypto is involved.
For online criminals, one of the troubles of dating scams used to be the methods to move the money around from the victim to the scammer without banks or authorities getting in their way. Money transferring companies were a solution to this, but they could still represent a hazzle because there was a trace left of the people involved in the transactions. Western Union failed to verify many senders, and had a conflict of interest in cancelling suspicious payments (less profits), but regulations started forcing them to have a stricter control and compliance. Scammers then started resorting to corrupt agents in the authorized service windows, or using false IDs or accomplices to receive funds, or even bribe agents or pay them a commission to cooperate.
The hype of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies was a refreshing solution for online romance scammers. Being able to move money around the world with no entity overseeing what is going on, and no way to track it down to a wallet owner, has given online criminal the advantage of operating anonymously. International police, law enforcement and court systems are having to deal with an invisible monster, which is harder to trap every day. The more they can hide their tracks, the better chances of continuing deceiving people without paying the consequences for their crimes.
International private investigators have insisted that verifying people’s identity and background is an efficient way to remain safe from scams, regardless of the methods or stories the scammers use. People tend to focus on very specific red flags, but scammers change their ways, techniques and aliases on a regular basis.
“Unfortunately, a lot of the people that search for a dating background check investigation to verify their online romantic partner have already been a victim and will most likely not recover their losses,” says Stephen Garcia, VP of International Private Investigations at Wymoo International. The greatest problem with online scamming has always been that people ignore the risks, either because they are completely unaware of what happens, or because they decide to think this is not their case. I can’t happen to you, right? Wrong. Sadly, a large percentage of online dating is fraud, and scammers have acquired the skills and resources to keep it going and keep it profitable. Bitcoin is helping.
How do romance scammers use bitcoin?
As mentioned above, the stories might change. However, in general terms fraudsters will ask their victims for a bitcoin deposit to help pay for a hospital bill, any other hardship situation, to pay for a lawyer fee, or even to invest in a business together. The reason they prefer bitcoin are many – it’s easier to get the money through this method, they don’t have to deal with costly exchange rates, or bank accounts being blocked, etc.
Online romance scammers are smart, they keep up with technology, and they will use all their resources in their favor. No one can afford losing their hard-earned money, so before making an online payment or sending funds to a stranger, whether it is a company, person or website, get the evidence you need and make sure they are legit.
Contact us today for a free and confidential investigation quote.
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