Crypto scammers prey on Japanese social media and chat app users

Source: Smolaw11/Adobe

Crypto-related crime continues to rise in Japan – where a news outlet reported how two men in their 30s were bitten by crypto scammers based on chat apps running a fake crypto exchange.

According to the Yomiuri newspaper, 24 cases of crypto-related fraud where perpetrators used social media and chat apps have been reported in Fukuoka Prefecture so far in 2022. The cumulative total of money lost in social media-fueled fraud cases in the region have hit the $2 million mark, police said.

The outlet interviewed two men who said they were duped by ‘investors’ on an investment-themed Telegram channel earlier this year. The first man, named “A” by the media to preserve his anonymity, explained that an individual in the chat had asked him for his line ID in order to continue a conversation in private.

He was then approached on Line by a woman calling herself “Angie Lee” and claiming to be from Taiwan.

In “broken Japanese”, she tried to persuade him to “invest in crypto-assets” using a platform she recommended.

A was initially skeptical but eventually agreed to invest a “small amount” – around $34 – on the platform. When he made unexpected “profits” of “several tens of thousands of yen” on this initial investment, A explained that his “suspicions gradually faded away”.

A continued to increase his bet size, ending up putting nearly $9,000 into the deck across 10 separate instances. He added that he had successfully removed fiat from the platform twice.

A then introduced his friend (B), also from Fukuoka Prefecture, to Angie Lee. The latter then invested some $36,500 on the platform in eight trades.

But in August, A came across a post on the internet that claimed the “platform” was actually a fraudulent exchange. He contacted B to suggest that he try to withdraw his funds “little by little – to avoid suspicion”.

However, when they attempted to withdraw their funds, the platform told them that their transactions were “under review”.

A then attempted to register a request with the platform’s “customer service center” and was told that he would have to pay a “cancellation fee” of over $4,000 if he wanted to withdraw the one of its funds.

He then took the case to the prefectural police but was unable to recover any of his funds.

Social Media Scammers: A “Familiar Pattern” For Crypto Fraudsters

The Fukuoka Prefectural Police Investigation Division noted that the case followed a similar pattern, in which overseas-based individuals attempted to gain people’s trust on social media sites and dating apps. – seeking to trick them into sending their coins to crypto wallets run by fake crypto exchanges. the operators.

Most do this by posing as attractive foreign men or women, then allowing them to “make a profit to gain their trust”, before “swindling them out of a large sum of money”.

A was quoted as saying:

“I let my guard down when I saw I was making a profit. […] I didn’t know much about cryptography. I didn’t even realize that my friend and I were cheated.

Last year, convenience store employees successfully intervened to prevent cases of crypto fraud, while in 2018, a crypto fraudster cheated an 84-year-old woman out of $9,000.

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