US-Based Indian Woman 'Brainwashed' By Con Man She Met On Dating App, Loses Savings - Vibes Of India

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US-Based Indian Woman ‘Brainwashed’ By Con Man She Met On Dating App, Loses Savings

| Updated: February 26, 2024 14:23

Shreya Datta, 37 lost her savings and retirement funds amounting to $450,000 in cryptocurrency

US-based Indian, Shreya Datta, 37, lost her savings and retirement funds in a con to a man she met on the dating app Hinge. The man, posing as a wine trader, had been wooing her for months. The Philadelphia-based techie lost $450,000 in cryptocurrency. The con, which saddled her with debt, involved the use of digitally altered deepfake videos.    

This scam is commonly known as “pig butchering,” with victims being lulled into a false sense of security with a show of love and affection. They are then tricked into a fake crypto investment. The fraud, which is spreadingly widely in the US, is reportedly run by crime syndicates in Southeast Asia. It has resulted in losses of billions of dollars. 

Datta met “Ancel” on Hinge last January. He introduced himself as a French wine trader based in Philadelphia. Datta was bowled over by his charisma and they exchanged texts on WhatsApp, selfies, flirtatious emoticons and even brief video calls. The suave scammer even posed with a dog, which was later found to be a deepfake. “Ancel” sent her caring texts and Datta, who was missing a companion after her divorce, was totally taken in. Though he kept postponing meeting in person, she did not get suspicious. 

Gradually, “Ancel” tried to convince her to invest. He told her that he was well off and planned to retire early and urged her to do the same. He told her he had made a great deal of money investing and sent her a link to download a crypto trading app – which came with a two-factor authentication to make it look safe. 

Datta converted some of her savings into cryptocurrency on the US-based exchange Coinbase and the fake app initially allowed her to withdraw her early gains, encouraging her to invest more.

“Ancel” urged her to increase her investments, take out loans and, even liquidate her retirement fund. By March, Datta’s nearly $450,000 investment had more than doubled on paper, but when she tried to withdraw the amount, the app demanded a personal “tax.” Her brother helped her figure out that it was all a scam. The pictures sent to her by “Ancel” were of a German fitness influencer. 

Apart from the loss of money, Datta was traumatised and could not eat, sleep or function normally.   

It is alarming how dating apps are being increasingly used to commit financial fraud by using AI-generated profile pictures.

More than 40,000 people have reportedly lost a total of $3.5 billion from cryptocurrency fraud, including pig butchering. This is likely to be a low estimate as many victims do not report the crime out of a sense of shame.

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