BOSTON — It’s a warning story for everyone using dating apps: scammers are using the sites to find victims and steal hundreds of thousands of dollars. One victim shared her story with WBZ-TV.
She had just finalized her divorce earlier in the year and decided to put herself out there again by using a new medium for the first time: dating apps.
The mother of a young daughter did not want to be identified for this report, but she lives near Springfield and is 45 years old.
In August of 2022, the woman downloaded the popular dating app Hinge and quickly met her match.
The man messaged her for days before the two moved the conversation off the app, and to another messaging platform called WhatsApp. In hindsight, the woman called that move a mistake.
“We had similar backgrounds,” she said. “He was in the engineering field, he had family in Portugal, I did as well. Right off the bat, we clicked.”
The woman started sharing stories about her life as a single mother, working multiple jobs to maintain a certain quality of life for her young daughter.
The woman has a master’s degree and considers herself a smart and competent woman. But admitted even she was not prepared for what happened next. The man offered her, what he billed as, a rare opportunity to invest in his family’s cryptocurrency.
She started by putting $500 in and at first, it yielded results. Over the next several weeks, he kept pressuring her to spend more and more, promising big returns for big investments.
“I would do all the transactions with him over the phone, and he would tell me you have to do exactly as I tell you, exactly at this time, or you are going to lose all your money,” she said.
By the end of it, she had handed over $250,000 dollars. About $70,000 was taken out in loans.
When asked at what point she realized something was wrong, she said, “The last transaction I did with him. Because then he kept persuading me, ‘ask for a loan, ask for this, ask for that.’ I’m like, I didn’t want to do that.”
At that point, she said she had no choice. She was all in.
Michael Krol is an investigator with the Department of Homeland Security based in Boston. Krol said these kinds of scams amount to tens of millions of dollars in victim losses in New England each year.
“It’s a huge problem,” said Krol. “They put time and effort into it. They know their victims. They research their victims. They are networks of people that help them. This is about making money for the organization.”
The Department of Homeland Security encourages people to do their best to use common sense. Krol admits it can be challenging when emotional manipulation is at play.
If you haven’t met the person you met on the app in person, Krol said not to trust them. Krol suggested talking to family and friends about situations when they arrive and noted if a deal seems too good to be true, it likely is.
The woman in this most recent case said she has been unable to recover any of her losses.
“This was a very traumatizing experience for me because this person I fell in love with was not real,” she said. “He played me this entire time. And I thought he was being sincere and genuine because that is the kind of person I am.”