Cryptocurrency Fraud: California consumer alleges she was tricked into sending cryptocurrency to a scammer

The California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) has received a complaint from a California resident regarding a crypto investment scam.

A California resident alleges to have been tricked into transferring money to an online scammer for the purpose of trading bitcoin on a third-party platform, after meeting the scammer on a dating app. The investor was told to transfer money from her bank account to a cryptocurrency trading platform to purchase cryptocurrency, then transfer the money into a cryptocurrency brokerage account address belonging to the scammer. The scammer then told the victim she had made about 20% profits on her initial investments, and then pressured her to put more money in the account, and to get her family to do so as well, in order to make more money. After investing at least $59,000, the victim was told she had made over $320,000 in profits.  But when she asked to withdraw some money, she was told she would have to pay 28% in taxes upfront, or approximately $92,000.  The scammer said he would send their taxes to the local and federal tax authorities, and the investor  would then get a letter of certification from the tax agencies.

The online scammer she met through the dating app claimed he did business in Belgium, but lived in Paris.  He claimed he was originally from China, and that his phone number is +33753055180.

This appears to be what is commonly called an “Advance Fee scheme,” which can take many forms, as discussed here:  https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/common-scams-and-crimes/advance-fee-schemes

The DFPI urges consumers to exercise extreme caution before responding to any solicitation offering investment or financial services.  To check whether an investment or financial service provider is licensed in California, consumers may contact the Department for questions or inquiries at ask.dfpi@dfpi.ca.gov or call toll-free at (866) 275-2677.  If a consumer believes a person or company has violated state law or acted improperly regarding a consumer financial product or service, they may file a formal complaint with the DFPI at https://dfpi.ca.gov/file-a-complaint/.

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