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Tinder date was a front for a cryptocurrency trading scam that robbed woman of her savings

Grooming is a key part of many online frauds, as one poor woman found out after meeting a bloke called Andy on dating site Tinder.

“We just chatted normally at first about likes and dislikes, we seemed to get on well,” said Diane, a London nursery school worker – I’m withholding her surname.

“Then he started saying he was in love with me, he was piling on the emotion.

“He talked about moving in together and buying a house.”

When asked about his job, Andy – it turned out to be a made-up name – said he made money from cryptocurrency trading and suggested that Diane did the same.

This is a clever variation of romance fraud, which more usually involves scammers asking directly for money for themselves for an operation or plane tickets, or whatever other lie they think might work. What Andy was doing was more subtle, he wasn’t asking for money for himself and appeared to be simply innocently recommending a trading website.

“He kept sending me pictures from this website showing how well he was doing,” she said.

“I told him that I didn’t know anything about trading but he said he’d show me.

“Eventually he persuaded me to put in £5,000.”

She transferred money from her bank into cryptocurrency exchange Binance, and from there to the trading site recommended by Andy, FXSMgroup.com.

Her trading boomed – at least, it appeared to according to reports she received from FXSM. Andy convinced her to invest more, saying they could make enough for a house deposit.

In total she put in £50,000, which the website told her had grown to $250,000 – about £180,000 – thanks to successful trading.

Then Diane tried to withdraw it, only to be told that first she must pay 10% of her balance to cover taxes.

“After you have paid your taxes, you can apply for withdrawal immediately,” she was messaged by FXSM.

Diane explained that she didn’t have £18,000 to pay the supposed tax demand and got the message: “If you fail to complete the payment within one month, we will take action against you, we will freeze your account and prosecute you for tax evasion.”

In another message, FXSM threatened: “If you fail to pay your tax after the deadline, the platform will charge a late fee of 1% of your account balance every day.”

This was all bluster, if anyone was going to take out a prosecution for tax evasion it would be the tax authorities, not a private business. Not that FXSM cares about taxes, it was all a sham to pressure Diane into handing over even more money.

When it became clear that she would not bullied, the once love-struck Andy stopped responding to her WhatsApp messages.

“Previously he had been sending messages daily saying how he was in love,” she said.

“It was a form of emotional abuse.”

The pictures he’d sent Diane were lifted from the Facebook page of an entirely unconnected shop worker from Germany.

FXSM hides behind a password-protected website and even when you get past the home page there’s nothing to indicate who they are or where they’re based.

It did not reply to my questions or comment on the fact it has been added to the scam alert list published by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Tinder says on its website: “We have a dedicated fraud team that utilizes a network of industry leading technology that scans for fraud and reviews each and every member profile for red flag language, and conducts manual reviews of suspicious profiles, activity, and user generated reports.

“Ultimately, no one, whether they met on Tinder or not, should ever send money to someone they haven’t met in person.

“In addition, we encourage our members to report any individual who has requested financial information via our self reporting tool.”