Cryptocurrency exchange Debiex is under scrutiny as United States regulators allege that senior staff members orchestrated romantic relationships with potential customers in an effort to swindle their funds.
In a recent statement on Jan. 19, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) outlined that Debiex staff allegedly misled potential customers with gaining their trust before convicting them to open up accounts with the crypto exchange.
Debiex assured customers their funds would be invested in crypto, however, they allegedly misappropriated the funds for personal gain:
“The CFTC’s complaint alleges Debiex’s unidentified officers and/or managers cultivated friendly or romantic relationships with potential customers by communicating falsehoods to gain trust, and then solicited them to open and fund trading accounts with Debiex.”
CFTC Charges Bogus Digital Asset Platform with Fraud and Misappropriation in an Online Romance Scam: https://t.co/RpskNapy7i
— CFTC (@CFTC) January 19, 2024
Despite only five victims being identified over the two-year period, the regulator claims that over $2 million was stolen through the pig butchering scheme.
“From approximately March 2022 through the present, it’s alleged Debiex accepted and misappropriated approximately $2.3 million from approximately five customers as part of this scheme,” the statement noted.
With Valentine’s Day only a few weeks away, individuals are urged to be cautious as February 12 approaches. Especially, wary of connecting crypto wallets or signing up to crypto services through romantic connections.
In February 2022, Cointelegraph reported that the FBI had warned citizens the week of Valentines Day to be aware o the rising number of romance scammers attempting to persuade individuals to send money to invest in crypto.
In recent times, romance scammers have bee capitalizing on the popularity of crypto to deceive and exploit victims for financial gain.
In May 2023, crypto exchange Binance was under fire, as a Texas woman alleged that the exchange was responsible for compensation of a man swindling her out of $8 million, a relationship that initiated over Tinder.
She argued that Binance was involved, as it provided exchange services to the scammer.
However, United States judge Amos Mazzant ruled that there was no evidence that Binance participated in the theft.
More recently though, romance scammers are adopting a swifter strategy to deplete funds, moving away from the traditional method of building trust through extensive interactions on dating apps.
In December 2023, Cointelegraph reported that an emerging tactic among romance scammers is targeted approval phishing. This involves convincing the victim to sign a transaction, granting scammers access to wallets and enabling them to swiftly drain funds.