Crypto scammers took $20,000 from Florida woman in romance
A Central Florida woman lost $20,000 in a crypto investment scheme that made it look like she had made more than $389,000 dollars from Bitcoin Day trading.
The woman, who asked not to be identified, said the man she knew as “Karel” made romantic overtures the first week they met online, then in the second week he suggested day trading as a way for her to gain financial independence.
“He offered to coach me to trade bitcoins daily,” she told News 6. “The way they designed the whole technology (website), it looks real.”
The website seemed authentic, but nyblockchainf.com is no longer operational.
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“The crypto and coin base (accounts) are legitimate,” she said. “My Bank of America account went through.”
Bank records obtained by News 6 confirm she transferred more than $22,000 to Metropolitan National Bank between Jan. 10 and Feb. 1. The notation for each transaction shows Metropolitan Commercial Bank/Crypto.com.
She said she sent all the money because her bitcoin wallet made it look like she was making incredible gains, but when she tried to transfer her money from the crypto account, it seemed like “the funds were frozen.”
The photos sent to her were stolen from a former German professional soccer player who now runs a fitness program.
Special Agent Caroline Obrien-Buster of the Orlando Secret Service told News 6 the scheme is just another variation of a romance scam.
“They have to bring them over to another platform like WhatsApp or Instagram,” Obrien-Buster told News 6. “Once they have them on the platform, they start gaining trust. They have playbooks.”
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As for the site, the veteran police agent said the scammers create a high-tech mirage to trick the victim into believing everything is real. Of course, the only money involved is the victim’s money.
“I look at this website and this is what it shows me, so how can this be wrong?” she told News 6. “The unfortunate part is there’s not enough life left for these people to make up for what they’ve lost.”
Obrien-Buster said every case is different, and in Central Florida the teams of local and federal law enforcement agencies have the background to investigate and, in many cases, recover some or all of the funds lost in similar investment schemes.
“The scams continue to evolve. This is a romance scam flipped to crypto, and if it’s flipped to crypto, that’s where it’s at,” she said. “Just call the Secret Service or local law enforcement. We can help.”
According to the Federal Trade Commission, “romance scammers tell all kinds of lies to steal your heart and your money, and these lies work.”
According to the FTC, nearly 70,000 people reported a romance scam, with reported losses of a staggering $1.3 billion.
The median reported loss was $4,400.
If you have a financial or unemployment problem, email [email protected] or text make ends meet with your problem to 407-676-7428.
You can help stop scammers by reporting suspicious profiles or messages to the dating app or social media platforms. Then tell the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. If someone tries to extort you, report it to the FBI. Learn more at ftc.gov/romancescams.
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