Woman Loses $390,000 of Her Family’s Life Savings in Dating App Cryptocurrency Scam

Nicole Hutchinson said she is warning others to be careful about getting caught in scams such as the one she fell victim to, but experts say they are not uncommon.

A 24-year-old said she was scammed by a man on a dating app and lost her family’s life savings in the process. Nicole Hutchinson said she met a man on the dating app, Hinge, named Hao who introduced her to the idea of cryptocurrency and promised to teach her, but things didn’t quite go that way.

“I’m, like, 'I've never invested in my life. I don't know anything about cryptocurrency either.' So I was very skeptical,” Hutchison told CBS News.

The man directed her to create an account on Crypto.com, a legitimate site, but then sent her a link to what he called a “cryptocurrency exchange platform” and told her to deposit her money there, she said.

Hutchinson and her father had just sold her childhood home after the death of her mother and each received $280,000. Hutchinson used the money to move to California and start a new life. She also used some of the money to invest using Hao’s instructions. She started to see the money grow, so much so that she got her father to invest, too, she said.

"He kept saying, ‘Look at this money that can help support your family,’ and obviously that's what I wanted to do,’” Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson said she realized something was wrong when she decided that she wanted to cash out what seemed to be $1.2 million, bur the site said before she could withdraw her money, she’d have to pay about $380,000 in “taxes.”

While the scammer had Hutchinson open a legitimate cryptocurrency account, the links he allegedly told her to transfer money into were for digital wallets belonging to thieves. The investments had all gone into the scammer's pockets, she said. 

In all, the Hutchinsons were scammed out of $390,000, and are now living in an RV.

"I messed up my life. I messed up my dad's life,” she said.

Crypto.com warns consumers to make sure any accounts they're moving money into are legitimate. Hinge told CBS News it takes fraud "very seriously" and has trained content moderators who look for evidence of it. 

“I just hope others don't have to fall for it. So if me sharing this story helps that, then I'm so grateful for that opportunity,” Hutchinson said.

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