Mexico City (Process).– “What do you think about cryptocurrencies?” It is the question that seeks to hook users of social networks and dating and encounter applications to invest in cryptocurrency platforms… and then be scammed.
Linda is a girl who lives up to her westernized name. She is more than that: she is attractive, candid, subtly sensual, interesting and sophisticated. Her Asian features, her sparkling eyes, her fine features and her porcelain skin invite you to like and match with her. She takes the initiative in writing and says she lives in Hong Kong, but she “was” visiting Mexico on vacation and “to make investments.”
In an increasingly connected world, social networks and dating apps like Tinder, Couples and Bumble have become fertile ground for socializing and exploring relationships, but they have also attracted the attention of scammers who, after several days of conversations, connection and exchange of photos to build trust, they offer fake cryptocurrency investment services. Is it genuine attraction or a scam plot?
Profiles like Linda’s with striking photos that show their high socioeconomic status, the trips they have taken, the luxurious tastes they display and their captivating descriptions have flooded dating apps. Part of the strategy is to quickly migrate to WhatsApp, which allows them to know the person’s phone number. Linda’s phone code is 852: it coincides with Hong Kong.
Most of these profiles are of svelte men and women “from” Hong Kong, Thailand, and other Asian nations. There are also beautiful Ukrainian women who, it is understood, have escaped the war with Russia and are now dedicated to investing in cryptocurrencies.
The fusion of beauty, exoticism, sensuality and meteoric prosperity attracts users who seek new connections with the different, but obviously raises questions about the authenticity of these profiles. Are they really the people they say they are or behind that luxurious lifestyle hide wicked manipulators?
Interaction with these profiles entails an evolution that can be rapid or very patient. The modus operandi is that at all times they explore and probe with immersive questions to know the work, economic, emotional and psychological profile of their possible victims. Linda explains: “the monthly income in China is 3,000-3,500 US dollars, I don’t know what it is like in Mexico” (sic).
Clearly, Linda did not speak or write Spanish, but she used Google Translate to interact fluently. Depending on the level of professionalism, profiles like Linda’s go from the typical questions and initial conversations, greetings of good morning and “nice evening” to discussions about investments in cryptocurrencies. This is a tactic to trap individuals with promises of exorbitant profits, while in reality it is an emotional scam.
The tricksters behind these attractive profiles are skilled at psychological and socioeconomic manipulation. They use persuasion techniques to gain the trust of their victims, presenting convincing stories of investment success and sharing alleged proof of profits. Scammers often seek to exploit the emotions of their unsuspecting followers, leading them to make investments without proper investigation.
I still think Linda was who she said she was. He shared videos of delicious breakfasts with his high-pitched voice in the background in sufficiently learned English (but without showing his face), real-time images of luminous skyscrapers (which communicates that he lives in a high place like a penthouse), the typical images of creatively plated dishes in luxury restaurants, selfies in vintage spaces where Linda’s good taste is appreciated when showing off her designer bags, pearlescent dresses, golden accessories and luminous jewelry, fine antique doll makeup and a perfect hairstyle that left see her youthful silky straight Asian hair.
Linda also shared images of her tourist destinations: palm trees and sea in what looks like a resort, where a skin-colored dress shows off her curves, but also bracelets and rings; an elegant restaurant on the edge of a pier, where Linda made sure she had a refreshing mojito, a pink flamingo hat and a small designer bag with a gold strap.
Linda was also a “philanthropist.” “I donate 20% of my cryptocurrency earnings to charity every year.” She said that one afternoon she visited poor children to give away textbooks and food. “My father taught me since I was a child (sic) that good living conditions are now a gift from God, and I should be grateful to society and give back with community donation activities and he always told me to be a good person.”
On one occasion she told me that she would visit a shopping center and that I would help her choose a pair of visibly expensive sneakers. She ended up “buying” two pairs, one a Chanel brand. She then shared a selfie of her delicate, white little feet wearing the fine sneakers placed on the board of a high-end stop and then another image of her shoe rack in her apartment with dozens of pairs of boots and sneakers, all very expensive, some transparent like Cinderella’s glass one.
“Women are born to like shopping, when they see something they like, they think about buying it,” she explained to me.
After several days and dozens of text messages, like a charming Asian feline, Linda took the plunge. He shared a screenshot with Bitcoin graphs, figures and Chinese letters from the bietfok.com site, currently disabled, with an Internet fraud alarm that says: “it is a platform to invest in cryptocurrencies, but when withdrawing the funds the “They block and ask for large deposits for their release.”
Linda’s previous cajoling and subliminal message was clear: “everything you have seen, my wealth and new imperial-capitalist lifestyle is thanks to cryptocurrencies.”
Such sophistication and luxury contrasted with the technicality of his next text message after showing me the growth of Bitcoin: “Cryptocurrency is a very popular investment project around the world. Do you know anything about it?”
A report from the United States Federal Trade Commission revealed that romance scammers robbed victims of $139 million in cryptocurrency in 2021.
Since these scams occur in a virtual environment, identifying, tracking, and holding perpetrators accountable can be extremely difficult. They operate from the darkness of the Internet, in truly remote regions, hiding their real identities behind fake profiles and Western names, in an unregulated financial world.
Do your research thoroughly before making any investment in cryptocurrencies. Be wary of stories of quick and unrealistic profits. Don’t share financial or personal information with strangers online. Verify the authenticity of profiles on dating apps.
“I want to meet more friends and of course I am always looking for my soul mate because I want to be treated like a princess and taken care of and warmed by others. The purpose is to use my skills to help people in need. Even though I don’t know much, this is what I can do”: Linda, crypto scammer.