A man from the USA has ended up without a penny after flirting his way into an online cryptocurrency scam with another man which left him hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.
Dennis Corey from the city of Portland, in Oregon State, USA, claimed that his entire world collapsed after he fell victim to a fake cryptocurrency trade exchange last autumn.
Corey, who is in his 60s, reportedly gave the scammer who he believed was interested in a romantic friendship more than USD 200,000 (GBP 165,000) before it occurred to him that it might all be fake.
He said: “I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to get out of it. How I’m going to get my bills paid off.”
The man revealed that it all began when the person began flirting with him on Facebook messenger and said: “He was a mutual friend, or I thought he was a mutual friend on Facebook and so then we just started chatting.”
He claimed that the conversation kicked off on a romantic note at first, but then turned into a business proposal when the cheat offered him an opportunity to make fast cash through crypto trading.
He reportedly even offered Corey some money to begin with.
Corey added: “We started chatting and talking, idyll conversation to just get to know one another and then he goes, ‘Let’s go to WhatsApp and chat there.
“We started doing little trades like that. I put in a USD 1,000 [GBP 824] and then put in another thousand.”
But as Corey saw his investments growing in the online app which he thought was legitimate, he then began putting in amounts of USD 50,000 [GBP 41,227] and more.
He said: “It would come up and say, ‘Oh, you increased your amount by this much money’ and so the balance just started accumulating and accruing.”
But the true agony, according to Corey, was when he realised that he was not able to get his investments back out and was asked to pay a tax fee.
Determined to retrieve his fake hundreds of thousands dollars worth profit, the poor man then took out a loan and issued a tax payment, right before he was demanded to pay a ‘certification fee’, followed by a ‘transfer fee’.
He said: “Meanwhile, they are sending me threatening messages, saying, ‘If you don’t pay me back, I’m going to sue you, my lawyers will find you, you think I can’t find you?’ And all these documentations.”
The desperate man then took out even more loans, advances on credit cards and cleared out his savings, only to witness the scammer wipe his money out and disappear.
Corey explained through tears: “I’m emotionally drained, physically drained, psychologically drained.”
He then reported the case to Portland police, who then referred it to the FBI and the Oregon Department of Justice, but an FBI spokesperson could not reveal whether their agents have initiated an investigation.
Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Portland office Kieran Ramsey said: “With the socially-engineered crypto investment fraud schemes, somebody will get in touch with somebody, via social media, through messaging, through email, and start soliciting this next great thing, this next great investment opportunity with cryptocurrency.
“They’ll then perhaps move them into a private messaging chat.
“It’s heartbreaking to hear.
“One of the big problems with cryptocurrency is you see these false promises of easy money, being combined with people’s limited knowledge or limited experience with cryptocurrency, and it really sets it up for the perfect storm for a scam.”
In doubt about whether he will ever see the money again, Corey added: “I see everything I’ve gone through and I just want to get it out there to the public so people will be aware to not get involved in this, because this will totally upset their life and turn everything upside down.”
Reports revealed that US citizens lost USD 1.3 billion (GBP 1.07 billion) to romance scams in 2022.