PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — A few weeks after a Boynton Beach man called Contact 5 after losing thousands of dollars to a cryptocurrency investment app and online dating scam, a Port St Lucie man is sounding the same alarm after becoming a victim to the same scam.
"It looks like you're making money, but your money is already gone," Kevin Kok told Contact 5 in early March.
Kok called Contact 5 after he allegedly lost $15,000 in an online cryptocurrency scam to a woman whom he thought he was dating online.
"If I can stop someone from just even going down this slippery slope that I went down, it's worth it," Kok said.
For that same reason, Al Jacoby and his accountant, Catherine Back, emailed Contact 5 after seeing Kok's story, believing the same thing happened to Jacoby.
"We have a huge problem here in Florida," Back said.
Jacoby said, just like what happened with Kok, it started with a woman he thought he was dating.
"If it's too good to be true, it's not," Jacoby told WPTV. "Started talking to her for a while, got some feelings for her, and she asked me if I wanted to stop working and make money and I don't have to work. So I said, 'Yeah.'"
Jacoby said he stopped hearing from the woman and then realized he lost nearly $250,000 and now he might lose his home because of it.
"I have a $210,000 balloon mortgage on my house that I gotta pay $2,100 interest for until December or lose my house," Jacoby said. "So, I'm done. I'm done. They got everything from me."
Cybersecurity experts said criminals reel consumers in with fake crypto investment apps that make it look like someone is making money when a person is losing money.
The FBI warns consumers should avoid unsolicited requests to download investment apps, take steps to verify a person's identity before trusting him or her with financial information and verify that an app is legitimate before downloading it.
"They played on his emotion of the love and the financial," Back said. "They told him he had $1.7 million, you know, and they gave him a fake URL and he's showing it to me. I'm looking on the phone. These fakes are really, really good."
It was a lesson learned the hard way for Jacoby, who said it's been "very difficult, emotionally and financially."
"I thought I was smarter than this," he said. "No. It happened."
If you'd like to donate to Jacoby's GoFundMe page, click here.