A Toronto-area woman got caught up in a romance scam that resulted in her investing in what she believed to be bitcoin.
The woman tells blogTO that she had just broken up with her boyfriend in mid-July.
“I was really at the bottom of my life, I was really not happy, I was depressed and you could say vulnerable,” the woman who did not want to be named told blogTO.
She went on the Facebook dating app looking for a boyfriend. Although she currently resides in Brampton, her dating profile is that of Toronto where she previously worked.
She started chatting with a man named Ricky Qin from Singapore with his house listed as Kitchener. Unlike her former boyfriend, Ricky spent time chatting with her on WhatsApp.
“He donated time and affection online,” she says. “Because I was vulnerable, I believed everything he said.”
They had planned to meet up for the hike but the outing was canceled due to bad weather. They have never met in person.
On Ricky’s profile, he indicated an interest in investing and the woman asked him if he knew anything about Bitcoin. She didn’t doubt what he was saying because she had initiated the conversation.
“He convinced me of the cryptocurrency exchange.”
He suggested buying Bitcoin from the well-known website Shakepay then told him to send the currency to a trading website he provided.
“He was telling me what to do, when to trade.”
She started with $ 2000 at the beginning and he told her that she had made $ 800 from trading. He told her she needed to invest more and she put in $ 10,000 more. None of this raised any red flags for her.
“Basically I was under her spell, I was brainwashed.”
It wasn’t until he sent him a photo of a hotel room he was supposed to stay in in Calgary on a business trip. She found the exact same photo on Instagram and then knew he was lying.
She questioned him and he got angry. She asked him how to withdraw his money, but he convinced her to send more money in order to get his funds. She sent a total of $ 12,400.
She eventually found the website on a list of scam sites and reported the scam to the police two weeks ago.
“I was stupid not to check everything he said.”
There are a number of red flags that she says she should have caught. His social media sites were new, with no followers, and the phone number he gave for chatting on WhatsApp had an unknown area code. The Canadian Fraud Center lists several romantic scams.
The woman hopes her story will help other women avoid falling for it.