Utah woman loses $187,000 to scammer posing as cryptocurrency investor
OGDEN, Utah — A Utah woman thought she was buying and selling cryptocurrency on a reputable website, but that wasn’t the case. It turned out to be an elaborate scam that started when she met who she thought was a match on a dating site.
After he gained her trust, he began coaching her on cryptocurrency investment based on bogus trades. Before she caught on, she was out nearly $200,000. She shared her story with the KSL Investigators in hopes others will learn from her mistakes.
A woman thought she was buying cryptocurrency on a reputable website. Before she got wise, she had sent close to $200,000 to a scammer.
— Matt Gephardt KSL-TV (@KSLGephardt) March 21, 2022
Dianne met a man on a dating app and the two of them hit it off.
“We started talking and he was so sweet,” she said.
He told her he was a self-made man who had become quite adept at investing in Bitcoin.
“And he said, ‘Well, you know, I can help you learn how to trade cryptos.’”
Dianne had about $2,000 in savings and decided she’d give it a go. She signed up on what she thought was a crypto-trading website, and within a few days, her investing seemed to really be paying off.
“And so, he said, ‘It’s too bad that you don’t have more money because we could do longer nodules and make more money,’” she recalled.
He persuaded Dianne to open credit cards, and even take out a loan against her home, to invest more and to cover the taxes and fees that came with each trade. And before long, all that investing work had paid off to the tune of more than $500,000 – sitting in a cryptocurrency account.
“They told me I need… to pay $120,000 to get my now $522,000 back,” Dianne said. “I said, ‘I don’t have any more money, like, you know that. I had to borrow to get all this other money.’”
It turned out, she had been trading with a bogus man on a fictitious website. And all the money she thought she had been making also did not really exist.
“I started throwing up,” Dianne recounted. “I was so sick to my stomach. I went into shock.”
Alas, her story is far from unique. According to the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker Report, “Scams related to crypto-currency jumped from the seventh riskiest scam in 2020 to second riskiest in 2021.” And folks who lost money in crypto scams lost a lot more than other scams — the median being $1,200, compared to $169 for all scam types.
“These types of things are extremely common, especially with the kind of the combination of a romance scam,” explained Alex Hamerstone, advisory solutions director for cyber security firm, TrustedSec.
He said the bad guys are taking advantage of the fact that lots of people are generally confused about how to buy cryptocurrencies.
“Cryptocurrency is something that, you know, scammers love it. Because it’s designed to be less trackable and decentralized. And it’s much harder to get back if you lose it.”
Hamerstone believes the number of victims is likely much higher than we know – many victims do not report getting scammed to avoid ridicule.
“People are really ruthless,” he said. “A lot of people will blame that victim — they should have known better, whatever else it is. And that’s really led to people not wanting to report these things.”
“In the beginning, I wasn’t going to tell anyone,” said Dianne of her experience. “I really wasn’t. I was so ashamed and embarrassed.”
But Dianne decided to be brave and share her story in the hopes it helps others, even as she faces financial ruin.
“What if this was one of my friends that this had happened to? I would want to know.”
Dianne said she sent $187,000 to invest in crypto as part of this scam. It is money that she did not have. She is now taking on extra work and trying to raise money through GoFundMe* to pay back the banks she borrowed from.
*KSL TV does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisors and otherwise proceed at your own risk.
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