Dating app experiences aren’t always great, but one woman had it particularly tough when her date turned out to be a crypto scammer that took her for $390,000.
Nicole Hutchinson was looking for a connection on the dating app Hinge, and met a man named Hao. He told her he came from the same town in China where she was adopted. She took his willingness to help her learn crypto as a sign that he was interested in her wellbeing.
“I want to teach you to invest in cryptocurrency when you are free, bring some changes to your life and bring an extra income to your life,” he wrote her in a text.
Nicole followed his suggestion and began investing in a link Hao had sent her. It wasn’t long before she saw a profit. She encouraged her father to begin investing and he did.
By December, Nicole and her father had a combined balance of $1.2 million and decided it was time to withdraw that money. That’s when she learned that there was a catch. She would have to pay a $380,000 tax bill.
Shortly after, she realized that none of her investments were real.
“I messed up my life. I messed up my dad’s life,” Hutchinson said.
Unfortunately, Nicole’s story is all too common. Online dating scams are on the rise. In fact, the FBI issued an alert this month about victims losing $1 billion in 2021.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, most scammers ask for gift cards, but the largest losses are incurred from cryptocurrency scams which accounted for $139 million in losses in 2021.
Nicole shared her story in the hopes that it will keep others from falling for scams like the one Hao sold her on.
“I think he really played off that I was naïve and not knowing anything about crypto and taking that and running with it. I just hope others don’t have to fall for it,” she said.
Unfortunately, Nicole’s story did not have a happy ending, but it could bring a silver lining if it can keep others safe. Keep your guard up, especially on dating sites. It’s a crazy world out there!