A Central Florida woman lost $20,000 in a crypto investment scheme that made it appear as though she had earned more than $389,000 dollars in Bitcoin Day trading.
The woman, who asked not to be identified, said the man she knew as “Karel” started romantic overtures the first week they met online, and then by the second week, he suggested day trading as a way for her to have financial independence.
“He offered to coach me doing the day trade using bitcoins,“ she told News 6. ”The way they designed the whole technology (website), it looks real.”
The website did appear authentic, but nyblockchainf.com is no longer operating.
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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 wired more than $22,000 to the Metropolitan National Bank between Jan. 10 and Feb. 1. The notation for each transaction shows Metropolitan Commercial Bank/Crypto.com.
[INSIDER EXTRA: Secret Service Special Agent shares more about protecting yourself from con artists]
She said she sent all that money because her bitcoin wallet made it appear as though she were making incredible gains, but when she tried to transfer her money from the crypto account, it appeared as though “the funds were frozen.”
The photos sent to her were stolen from a former German professional soccer player who now operates a fitness program.
Special Agent in Charge Caroline Obrien-Buster of the Orlando Secret Service told News 6 the scheme is just another variation of a romance scam.
“They need to bring them over to a different platform like WhatsApp or Instagram,” Obrien-Buster told News 6. ”Once they have them on the platform, they start gaining their trust. They have playbooks.”
As for the website, the veteran law enforcement agent said the scammers create a high-tech mirage to make the victim think everything is real. Of course, the only money involved is the victim’s money.
“I’m looking at this website, and this is what it’s showing me, so how could this be wrong?” she told News 6. “The unfortunate part is there’s not enough life left for these people to make up what they’ve lost.”
Obrien-Buster said each case is different, and in Central Florida, the layers of local and federal law enforcement agencies have the background to investigate and in many cases recoup some or all the funds lost in similar investment schemes.
“The scams keep evolving. This is the romance scam turned to crypto, and if it’s turned to crypto, that’s just where everything is,” she said. “Just call the Secret Service or local law enforcement. We can help.”
According to the Federal Trade Commission, “Romance scammers tell all sorts of lies to steal your heart and money, and those lies are working.”
According to the FTC, nearly 70,000 people reported a romance scam, with reported losses at a staggering $1.3 billion.
The median reported loss was $4,400.
If you have a financial or unemployment issue, email email@example.com or text the words make ends meet along with the issue to 407-676-7428.
You can help stop scammers by reporting suspicious profiles or messages to the dating app or social media platform. Then, tell the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. If someone is trying to extort you, report it to the FBI. Learn more at ftc.gov/romancescams.
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