Woman Living In RV After Losing Life Savings In Crypto Dating Scam
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A woman lost $390,000 (£290,000) and is now living in an RV after falling for a crypto dating scam.
Nicole Hutchinson, from Tennessee, inherited her mother's house after she died, and she split the $280,000 (£210,000) proceeds with her dad Melvin.
The cash from the sale was earmarked to help the 24-year-old start a new life with her family in California.
In a bid to make friends after moving to a new city, Hutchinson downloaded a dating app and it was here she met and befriended a guy called Hao.
The two struck up a friendship, with Hutchinson telling CBS she felt a connection to the man as he claimed he was from the same Chinese town she had been adopted from.
Hao told Hutchinson he invested money into cryptocurrency and encouraged her to give it a go.
As she’d never invested cash before, Hutchinson was initially ‘sceptical’ but says Hoa was able to reassure her that he understood the market well.
He told her to set up an account on the legitimate crypto-trading site Crypto.com - but then sent her a new link and told her to transfer money there, explaining that it was a cryptocurrency exchange platform.
Hutchinson started small, but was encouraged to start investing bigger amounts.
She told CBS: "He just kept saying things of, like, 'Look at this money that can help support your family.' Obviously that's what I wanted to do.”
And when her account started to show profits, Hutchinson then suggested to dad Melvin that he invest, too.
Within months, their accounts showed a balance of $1.2 million (£900,000) and they decided they wanted to cash out.
But before she could get her hands on the cash, she was told she’d need to pay a tax bill of $380,000 (£285,000).
It was then she learnt that all the ‘investments’ she’d made weren’t real and that all their money had gone directly to their scammer.
Hutchinson and her dad are now living in an RV, but have decided to share their story as a warning to others.
She said: "I just hope others don't have to fall for it.
"So if me sharing this story helps that, then I'm so grateful for that opportunity.”
Crypto.com has warned would-be traders to ensure they are paying into legitimate accounts, while Hinge told CBS it takes fraud 'very seriously' and has trained content moderators who look for evidence of fraud.
According to cryptocurrency scam investigator Rich Sanders the pair were victims of a ‘pig butchering scam’.
He explained to CBS: "The name really comes from the fattening up before the slaughter.”
Sanders said Hutchinson's money was initially going into a real cryptocurrency account, but as soon as she began to send money to the links Hao sent her, she was sending it directly to his digital wallets.