A Massachusetts woman has revealed how she was a victim of an online romance scam, where she lost $2.5m.
Cynthia Tsai, a lawyer living in Newton, Massachusetts, recalled how she was going through the “the most vulnerable time [she had] ever been in [her] life” during a recent interview with the Boston Herald. She noted how she had her stomach removed in January 2021, after being diagnosed with gastric cancer months earlier and that her husband of 16 years, who she hadn’t physically seen since three months before her diagnosis, told her he wanted to break up. Her cancer also came back in September 2021.
A month later, she received a message on WhatsApp from someone named Jimmy, who asked her if she was Linda. After telling him that he had that wrong number, they acknowledged how they both looked Chinese, based on their profile picture on the app, which sparked a new relationship between them.
According to Tsai, Jimmy continued to be there for her when she needed someone to lean on. Over their three months of messaging, however, she realised that she was being scammed by Jimmy.
Jimmy detailed how involved he was in trading cryptocurrencies online and how beneficial it has been to him. While Tsai wasn’t interested at first, Jimmy had sent her screenshots of his alleged returns and the money he got. She had also read about billionaire Elon Musk, at the time, and his success through crypto.
Jimmy introduced her to an online trading market, which used a name that was similar to a legitimate site. He also agreed to do a video call with her, in order to alleviate any of her concerns about “red flags” in the market.
He also had made it look like he was giving her “loans” in order to help her build up her crypto success. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case, as she ended up giving money to a fake platform and lost $2.5m.
Speaking to The Independent, Tsai noted how she won’t be able to get her money back, “because the scam group is outside the US and probably laundered in many different ways”.
“I was as pretty much told by the FBI to not expect it back,” she said. “All was through crypto except for 1 wire to National Bank of Australia.”
She also shared how she’s a member of the Global Anti-Scam Organisation, which supports “people around the world devastated by investment cybercrimes,” per its official website.
Through the group, Tsai has seen how online scams are constantly changing. “We realise that scammers are posing not as just good looking Asian men and women, but as people of all nationalities and of all looks,” she added. “They are also on every single social media platform, not just dating sites but also LinkedIn. A few victims met their scammers there. We also now see they are employing deep fakes.”