Dubai: Former IT director loses all his life savings in a crypto-romance scam

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Photo for illustrative purposes only. ARCHIVE

Dubai: Former IT director loses all his life savings in a crypto-romance scam

A Dubai citizen was left broke and heartbroken after losing his life savings in an elaborate crypto-romance scam.

Former IT director Pratik Singh (name changed) says it all started with a harmless message in late 2022.

A woman named Coco wrote him on WhatsApp from a Hong Kong number, asking if he was the manager of a specific hotel in Dubai.

“I immediately messaged back to clarify that I was not the person she was looking for,” said Pratik.

The brief chat gradually turned into deep conversations. Coco told Pratik that she hoped to visit Dubai soon.

“We exchanged photographs,” Pratik recalled. “I was having issues with my wife of 20 years. Coco came as a breath of fresh air. She was an attractive young woman with an angelic face. I fell madly in love.”

Coco soon began telling Pratik about her friend Linda. “She said Linda was a Malaysia-based financial advisor who was helping her make money from crypto-currency trading. Coco then connected me to Linda so that I could also benefit from the opportunity.”

Pratik was initially skeptical, but his interest peaked when Linda told him he would operate and maintain his account. A few days later, he used a link supplied by Linda to register an account on a cryptocurrency trading platform.

“I was on cloud nine. I thought I had found my soul mate and through her, an easy way to make money,” said Pratik.

By December, Pratik had been duped out of $180,000 (Dh661,100), a large portion of which had been borrowed from his wife and friends.

The crypto platform he was trading on turned out to be a fake.

“It was designed to run simulated trade in which I appeared to be making huge returns. But now, I know better,” said a devastated Pratik, who hired a company to help trace and possibly recover the money.

According to CipherBlade, a UK-based bitcoin investigative analysis organization, the prospects of victims recovering money are slim. They estimate worldwide losses from such schemes will exceed “tens of billions of US dollars” in 2021 alone. BKM/ Expat Media

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