March 16 — Do you use an iPhone or an Android? If you do, beware of this new romance scam which could empty your bank account. This phishing technique is also revolutionary in how it gives its victims a “win” before stealing much more money down the line.
Romance scams have been around for decades. From chat rooms to Craigslist, scam artists have taken advantage of every conceivable location where people look for love. The impact of these scams has greatly expanded due to mobile technology and the ease in which we can connect our phones to banking and investment apps.
The FTC dubbed 2021 as a “goldmine” for scammers, reporting that victims lost $770 million just from social media scams alone. Money and love seem to be two core desires of the human race, and fraudsters took advantage of those desires through schemes involving investments, cryptocurrency, and romance.
In 2021, an international criminal ring known as “CryptoRom” wreaked havoc across the US, Europe, and Asia. Scammers from CryptoRom targeted Tinder and Bumble users, tricking them into installing fraudulent cryptocurrency trading apps.
Today, CryptoRom is back, getting applications onto Apple’s App Store while bypassing Apple’s Enterprise Signature platform.
CryptoRom scammers were also using WhatsApp messages to find victims, presenting them with “investment opportunities” in which huge financial gains are promised.
Traditionally, scammers tricked victims into submitting their financial information into the fake app or purchasing crypto through an illegitimate service, which deposits money straight into the attackers’ bank accounts.
A revolutionary scam technique
In this case, CryptoRom fraudsters actually allowed their victims to make withdrawals of their initial deposits after they had a ‘win’ on the market.
By giving their victims the feeling of a ‘win,’ scammers are able to persuade their victims to invest even more, since it seems like the initial ‘investment’ already turned a profit.
Furthermore, they offer to lend the victim a large sum to increase the investment. Because the scammer controls the app, they can create imaginary deposits and generate fake profits at will.
At this point, the fraudster demands a tax of 20% on the fake figure, or else the “tax authorities will take everything.” This is where the bag is made.
Unfortunately, because of the nature of cryptocurrency and the fact that these transactions were made across borders, it’s extremely difficult to recover money through legal channels or law enforcement. One individual lost over one million dollars.