A HEARTBROKEN trader has shared how he lost all of his savings in crypto after he was targeted by a scammer he met on Hinge.
Steve Belcher, 52, a software engineer, from Denver in the US, has invested $1.6m (£1.2m) from his retirement account in what he thinks is a promising platform after being convinced by scammers.
The cheating tactic known as sha zhu pan – or “pig slaughter” – refers to the way in which a supposedly “fattened” target is ready for slaughter.
It saw professional scammers – often with connections to the Chinese mafia – spend months building the trust of their victims before spurring them to invest in bogus get-rich-quick schemes. .
After moving to Denver, 52-year-old Steve decided to try out the dating app Hinge, where he came across a profile named Shizuka Suzuki who was also in the same area.
Steve told The Sun Online: “I am new to the area and am looking forward to meeting new people and dating apps are one way people do it these days.
“This profile shows that as someone interested in crypto, a business person, we have a lot in common.
“The reason I initially chose to contact this person was that it seemed like we had many of the same interests, like cryptocurrencies and investments.
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“We hooked up and started a relationship online, we talked about a bunch of different topics, mundane things, like what do you do, where you come from.”
Steve said that despite his efforts, there was always an “excuse” such as business trips or other obligations that Suzuki couldn’t meet him in person.
The software engineer has been investing in crypto since 2017 and has made $70,000 (£51,000) so far.
But cryptocurrency is a risky investment and the UK regulator has warned Britons to be wary of how quickly its price can go up and down, as well as the lack of protection if there is anything wrong.
Anyone who invests in crypto should check the company they are using registered with FCA.
Even so, consumers are unlikely to be covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), which includes savings of up to £85,000 if a company goes bust. You also cannot complain to the Inspector.
The FCA said investors should be aware of the intricacies of financial products involving cryptocurrencies and warned that there is no guarantee that your funds can be converted back to cash.
How my crypto investment went wrong
Steve said that in a conversation the other day, Suzuki suggested a platform with mobile apps and web apps, and stated that she also invested.
Steve downloaded the app on his phone, which he considers legit, adding that technologically the software has “everything a legitimate platform would be”.
He added: “I missed some other trends like Apple or Google but with the crypto trend, I can invest more.
“This individual sent me a link to the platform and told me she invested.
“I downloaded the app, there is no indication or warning that it is not a legitimate app.
“Once I downloaded the app, there was a tech support staff available to help you with logistics and any customer issues you might have.
“It was a rather elaborate plan, socially designed, well scripted.
“They take your psychological aspects and use them to your advantage. It’s like a business.
Steve started investing gradually and even withdrew some money to test the platform.
“At the time, it made sense,” he said. Everything works as I expected.
How to detect crypto scams
CRYPTO scams are popping up all over the internet. We explain how to detect them.
- Promises of high or guaranteed returns – Is the proposal realistic? Scammers often attract money by making fake promises.
- Heavy Marketing and Promotion – If they are using marketing tricks to deceive customers, you should be careful.
- Team members have no names or do not exist Just like any business, it’s easy to find out who’s running it.
- Check out the official report – Every crypto company should have a white paper. This will explain how it plans to grow and make money. If this doesn’t make sense, it could be because the founders are trying to confuse you.
- Do your research – Check online reviews and Reddit threads to see what others think.
“I started withdrawing money from my retirement account to transfer into the platform.
“I pulled out all my other investment platforms to get into the last cycle.
When his account had a balance of 8 million USDT, Steve decided it was time to cash out but this is where things started to go awry.
The scammer posing as a “customer service agent” asked for $1.5 million to allow him to withdraw.
The scammer even suggests he mortgage his house or business, and even borrow money from family.
“When I realized what had happened, I was devastated, panicked, depressed,” Steve said.
“It looks weird at first, you question yourself and start thinking you’re stupid.
Steve now wants to raise awareness so that others don’t fall victim to scams and “take the fight” like he did.
“There are many people who have become victims of scams, they are not unintelligent, uneducated people, they have mortgaged their homes for millions.
“They are ashamed to admit what happened to them because of the guilt.
“Remember that this scam is very well structured and will convince you to invest.
“Just be careful in any kind of social media platform.”
Steve is not the only investor to commit a crypto scam – one person lost £176,000 after being scammed.
And earlier this month, Crypto.com users were unable to access funds after withdrawals were suspended.
https://www.thesun.ie/money/8276535/lost-million-honey-trapped-hinge-crypto-scam/ I Lost £1.2 Million After Getting Stuck On Dating App Hinge In Disturbing ‘Pig Slaughter’ Crypto Scam