Cryptocurrency Romance Scam – Indian Woman Lost $450K!!

A Philadelphia-based tech professional lost $450,000 in a cryptocurrency romance scam, which is commonly known as ‘pig butchering’.

Shreya Datta, 37 lost her savings and retirement funds for a digitally altered deepfake video and script from a fraudster.

It all began on a dating app Hinge where she met ‘Ancel’ in January 2023. He introduced himself as a French wine trader based in Philadelphia. The conversation quickly went on to WhatsApp after Shreya was ‘charisma bombed’. Selfies were exchanged and video calls happened, but only to know that everything was an AI deepfake.

Ancel postponed the physical meeting plans, but that did not make her suspect him. Amid the conversations slowly, Ancel asked her what her retirement plan is, saying he was retiring early and he was well off.

He sent her a link to download a crypto trading app that came with a two-factor authentication to make it appear legitimate. Shreya Datta converted some of her savings into cryptocurrency on the US-based exchange Coinbase. The fake app sent by Ancel first allowed her to withdraw the early gains and she started investing more.

Ancel encouraged her to invest more savings, take out loans, and even liquidate her retirement fund. Shreya Datta invested nearly $450,000 by March and it had more than doubled on paper, but when she tried to withdraw the amount the app demanded a personal tax.

She started to get suspicious and asked her London-based brother for help. He found out that the pictures of Ancel actually belonged to a German fitness influencer. Shreya then realized it was all a scam and all the money was gone. She says, ‘It was very traumatizing.’

The FBI told AFP that more than 40,000 people lost around $3.5 billion from this pig-butchering cryptocurrency scam.