BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. — A Boynton Beach man called Contact 5 after losing $15,000 in an online dating and cryptocurrency scam that he is now warning other consumers about.
For Kevin Kok in Boynton Beach, cryptocurrency was always a breeze.
"I've done crypto before where I've had my coin base and my digital wallet," he told Contact 5.
However, this time was different. Kok said he was tricked into a cryptocurrency scam by someone he thought he was dating online.
"She put money into my wallet, into this app, and this app is super crazy where it's like a shadow. So, everything appears to be working but in the background. They have total control," Kok said. "So, it looks like you're making money, but your money is already gone."
He told Contact 5 he ended up losing $15,000 and never heard again from the scammer, who he thought he was dating for months.
Back in July, the FBI put out a warning about fake crypto apps, like the one Kok used, which caused consumers to lose millions of dollars last year.
"We're seeing more and more of these crypto-type scams," Alan Crowetz, WPTV's cybersecurity expert with InfoStream, Inc., said.
Crowetz said, unfortunately, they often seem enticing.
"These guys are masters at faking things, at sending fake information, at looking very valid," he said.
Crowetz said consumers need to have their guard up doing anything online these days, especially when it comes to their money.
"Awareness is a big one and paranoia. I hate to say it. Question everything. When it comes to money, anything that's urgent, like, 'You need to do this before today is over,'" Crowetz said. "The bad guys are getting better, faster than the good guys aren't catching up."
That's why Kok called Contact 5, wanting to share his story.
"If I can stop someone from just even going down this slippery slope that I went down, it's worth it," Kok said.
The FBI recommends crypto investors take the following precautions:
- Be wary of unsolicited requests to download investment applications, especially from individuals you have not met in person or whose identity you have not verified
- Take steps to verify an individual's identity before providing them with personal information or relying on their investment advice
- Verify an app is legitimate before downloading it by confirming the company offering the app actually exists, identifying whether the company or app has a website, and ensuring any financial disclosures or documents are tailored to the app’s purpose and the proposed financial activity
- Treat applications with limited and/or broken functionality with skepticism