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Cupid’s Connection to Crypto

Online romance scams have been wreaking havoc for years. In a sinister twist, criminal enterprises are playing the long game to compound their losses by engaging targets in crypto-investment schemes. The way it starts out? An errant text. And the people sending these texts? They are enslaved and being forced to do it.

How It Works

  • You receive a text you think was sent in error – maybe it’s a pet owner trying to reach the vet, or it’s a text asking if you’re still on for dinner that night.
  • Being polite, you respond to let the sender know their text didn’t make it to the intended recipient.
  • This is all it takes for an “errant” text to begin a conversation that sparks a friendship or love interest, which becomes a trusted relationship that opens the door for “learning” how to invest in cryptocurrency.
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What You Should Know

  • Romance scams have become one of the top drivers of cryptocurrency fraud. The Federal Trade Commission pegs reported losses at $1.3 billion in 2022.
  • Behind this fraud are transnational criminal enterprises who are luring frontline “workers” with fake employment offers and enslaving them to ensnare targets into this scheme.  
  • While the errant text is the latest mode, this scheme still plays out on the traditional channels of social media and dating sites and apps.

What You Should Do

  • If you get a text like this, or any suspicious text, report it to the industry. On an iPhone, click “report message” and select “fraud.” A similar option is coming soon to Android devices. This allows service providers to update their protective algorithms in real time to block the numbers.
  • Another way to report is to forward the message to 7726. It’s not a straightforward process; learn how to master it here.
  • Sadly, dangers lurk behind all forms of communications as fraud grows unabated. Don’t engage with errant texts or friend requests when you don’t know the person already. Don’t click on links in email or text messages. If an authority, a retailer, your utility company or your bank are calling, texting or emailing, don’t respond. Find the number (paper statement, back of your credit card, etc., but don’t google it) and initiate a call if you think there may be an issue.
  • By reading this, you now have the power to protect yourself from this insidious scheme. Share what you know to help protect others.

Knowledge gives you power over scams. The AARP Fraud Watch Network equips you with reliable, up-to-date insights and connects you to our free fraud helpline so you can better protect yourself and loved ones. We also advocate at the state, federal and local levels to enact policy changes that protect consumers and enforce laws.

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Have you seen this scam?

  • Call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 877-908-3360 or report it with the AARP Scam Tracking Map.  
  • Get Watchdog Alerts for tips on avoiding such scams.