facebook twitter WhatsApp linkedin
Table of Content:

Online dating scams have been a threat since the birth of online dating and social media. And with the popularity of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, a new variation of this scam has emerged: the crypto romance scam.

Crypto romance scams work just like any other romance scam, but with the addition of duping victims into sending cryptocurrency, or investing in fake cryptocurrency opportunities like fake apps and exchanges.

Crypto romance scams are becoming a growing risk as more people turn to online dating, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic. The growing use of cryptocurrency worldwide also increases the prevalence of these scams.

In this article, we’ll take a deeper look into crypto romance scams, how they work, some warning signs of these scams, and how you can protect yourself from these manipulative scammers.

Understanding Crypto Romance Scam

What is Crypto Romance Scam

Crypto romance scams prey on vulnerable individuals using sophisticated social engineering tactics. They form fake emotional connections with their targets to ultimately convince victims to send cryptocurrency or invest in fake crypto projects or investment platforms they control.

These criminals start by creating elaborate fake profiles on dating apps and social media sites using stolen photos and fabricated backgrounds. Common personas include military members, widowed spouses, traveling overseas workers, and others designed to pull at the heartstrings.

Upon establishing contact, the scammers build affection and trust by constantly professing admiration, sharing daily activities through messages, and even sending small gifts—a process known as “love bombing.”.

This constant grooming process takes advantage of people’s desire for romance, connection, and compassion. 

After weeks, or even months, of building relationships, the scammers start mentioning financial matters. They may claim they need funds for a family emergency, a business venture, or a personal crisis. The manipulated victim feels compelled to help someone they care about.

With the victim emotionally invested, the scammers pressure them to quickly send untraceable cryptocurrency like Bitcoin or Ethereum to their digital wallet. Most of the time, the common excuse for choosing cryptocurrencies is to avoid complications from international fund transfers.

Sometimes, the scammers may also ask their victims to “invest” in a platform they’re using. But in reality, those platforms are under the scammers’ control, tricking the victims into losing significant amounts of money in crypto, also known as the “Pig Butchering Scam

Crypto romance scammers are masters at recognizing and exploiting human vulnerabilities. Their manipulative tactics rob victims not just of money, but also of their trust, dignity, and sense of self-worth. Understanding how these schemes work is the best defense against them.

Crypto Romance Scams: Losses Over the Years

As cryptocurrency has exploded in popularity, so too have crafty variations of crypto romance scams. Analyzing the growth and impact of crypto romance scams over recent years sheds light on how prolific these scams have become.

  • In 2018, the FTC reported $143 million in losses from romance scams overall. As crypto gained adoption, the portion involving cryptocurrency rose significantly. 
  • Losses continued climbing in 2021, with the FTC documenting $547 million stolen through crypto romance scams.
  • The median individual loss also rose dramatically, from $2,600 in 2020 to $10,000 in 2021, per FTC data. Some victims even lost over $1 million in single scams.
  • People reported losing $547 million to romance scams in 2021.
  • In 2022, the FBI reported that online romance scams had increased to over 56,000 complaints, with a projected 1 in 3 schemes now mentioning cryptocurrency as a technique. Estimated losses reached a staggering $1.3 billion.

Who Do Crypto Romance Scammers Target?

Who Do Crypto Romance Scammers Target?

Crypto romance scammers are masters at identifying and exploiting vulnerabilities in their potential victims. They use their manipulative tactics and fake affection toward certain demographics who are more susceptible to the scams.

Older Individuals

Many scammers target older individuals over 50, such as widowed seniors or retirees. Experiencing the loss of a spouse or loneliness in later years leaves some entry points to manipulation. Scammers act like admirers or someone who cares about them to fill an emotional void and then abuse that trust.

Divorced People

Divorced or middle-aged people recovering from the dissolution of a marriage are some of the most lucrative targets for crypto romance scammers. The scammers swoop in during a time of heartache and transition, offering affection, flattery, and the promise of a new beginning. This builds strong emotional bonds, making the victim more compliant.

Military Members

Military members and veterans are common targets of crypto romance scams as well. Scammers take full advantage of these individuals’ strong sense of duty and purpose. Sometimes the scammers will go as far as crafting fake military service to build trust and craft stories about needing funds for missions, operations, or injuries.

A common theme observed in crypto romance scammers’ targets is that they’re going through a major life transition, causing them to go through loneliness or instability, leaving them emotionally exposed. Scammers identify these vulnerabilities and tell people what they want to hear, only to rob them of their life savings.

How Crypto Romance Scammers Operate

Crypto romance scams involve elaborate schemes designed to progressively manipulate and deceive victims over extended periods. Understanding their process step-by-step gives us a insight into how victims get ensnared by these exploitative scams.

  • The first phase involves creating fake profiles on dating sites, social media, and messaging apps using photos of attractive, fabricated identities. Background stories are crafted to appeal to target demographics. 
  • Next, the scammers initiate contact with potential victims and build an emotional connection through daily communication. They profess deep affection, longing, and similarities to build intimacy. Gifts and gestures early on reinforce feelings of being "soulmates."
  • When the scammer senses they have fostered strong feelings of trust and attachment, they will mention needing financial help for an emergency or unexpected crisis. This starts testing and conditioning the victim's willingness to send money.
  • In the final phase, the scammer will suggest sending the funds in cryptocurrency with a promise to return with huge profits. They instruct the victim to send cryptocurrencies to a digital wallet.

Once the transfer is complete, the scammer disappears with the money through untraceable and irreversible crypto transactions. Months of grooming and emotional manipulation culminate in grand thefts through digital channels.

Warning Signs of Crypto Romance Scams

Warning Signs of Crypto Romance Scams

Crypto romance scammers may shower their target with a lot of love, but they carefully maintain their illusion and distance to hide their true motives. Here are some common red flags that you should look out for to detect a crypto romance scam:

Refusing to Meet in Person

Genuine romantic relationships progress to in-person meetings relatively quickly. But scammers will present excuse after excuse for why they can't meet up, such as living overseas, being deployed for military duties, or having medical conditions. This maintains anonymity and prevents their scam from being revealed. Persistent refusals to meet should be an instant dealbreaker.

Quickly Asking for Money 

Scammers will often pressure victims for cryptocurrency or investment funds within weeks or months of initial contact. They take advantage of the emotional attachment built up in the grooming process to make the financial ask seem reasonable. But any request for cryptocurrency from someone you haven't met in person should raise alarms.

Avoiding Video Chats

While scammers will send photos and have long text or phone conversations, they'll refuse video chats to prevent you from seeing they've used fake or stolen photos. Technical issues and other excuses will continually crop up that make it impossible to have a video call. If your online admirer won't show their face, they probably have something to hide.

Pushing Questionable Crypto "Investments" 

The scammer will often pivot the conversation to amazing cryptocurrency investment opportunities they can facilitate, promising huge guaranteed returns. These will be hosted on fake platforms they control to steal deposited funds. Pressuring victims to invest in crypto above courtship early on is manipulation, not romance.

Protecting Yourself from Crypto Romance Scams

Protecting Yourself from Crypto Romance Scams

While crypto romance scammers are experts in manipulation, there are steps you can take to detect and avoid becoming a victim of these relationship cons. 

  • Conduct reverse image searches on all profile photos to check if they are stolen from somewhere else online. Scammers typically use photos of attractive models or public figures, not their real selves.
  • Watch for any inconsistencies in the details of their identity or backstory that don't add up over time. Scammers have trouble keeping facts straight over long-term deceptions. 
  • Only send cryptocurrency funds or invest in opportunities with someone you have communicated with online but have met in person. This rule alone would prevent most crypto romance scams.
  • If you notice anything suspicious, such as a refusal to video chat or meet up, cut off all contact immediately. Don't try to confront the scammer or hope the situation improves. End communication and report them.

Wrapping Up

As cryptocurrency continues to expand, criminals are finding new ways to use romance to scam people out of their money. You must educate yourself about how crypto romance scams operate, learn to recognize the warning signs, and apply precautions just in time, so you can find love online while avoiding manipulation.

Approach any new online relationships and crypto investments with open eyes, honest guardrails, and healthy skepticism; and never be afraid to seek support from family and friends.

And if you ever find yourself in a situation where you have concerns about a potential crypto romance scam, or encounter a suspicious investment scheme or individual, don’t hesitate to reach out to TechForing. Our expert teams are ready to help you 24/7 and provide the necessary guidance, fraud protection, and peace of mind when navigating the online world.

Stay vigilant, and build an online world of trust and safety with awareness.


We’ll send our best articles, videos, and exclusive content right to your inbox. It’s free.

Relevant Articles


In this article, we’ll delve into the intricacies of rug-pull crypto scams, dis…

Read More


In this article, we are going deep into the inner mechanisms of crypto phishing…

Read More


In this article, we will go through the ultimate list of fake crypto exchanges,…

Read More