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Online romance leads to elaborate cryptocurrency fraud

The California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) has received a complaint from a an out of state resident regarding the website wstoptrades .com, also know as Wall Street top trades.

A Canadian resident told DFPI he received a direct message on Twitter from “Sassy Ray” saying she wanted to talk investments and got the victim to connect on WhatsApp.

They developed a friendship, and eventually Sassy Ray got the victim to invest $6,000 with her company, Wall Street Top Trades. Later, they became “romantically” involved, or so the victim thought, and she convinced him to invest another $6,000.

The victim wanted to cash out but told he would have to pay an additional $7,000. At first he refused, but Sassy Ray told him she wanted to be with him for the rest of her life but wouldn’t unless he paid the $7,000. Eventually, he agreed to pay the fee but on the day Sassy Ray was to come and meet the victim, she told him she had been suspended and the money was on hold.

Then, the victim got an email from a Paul who claimed he was now the account manager and needed the victim to pay an additional $10,000 in Bitcoin. Sassy Ray said she couldn’t visit the victim unless he paid that fee, too. However, once he had the new fee, the victim was immediately told there was an additional $1,400 required. When he made this latest payment, he got another bill saying he needed to send an additional $13,700 to the IRS for taxes.

All in all, this bad romance cost the victim $22,000 and lot of mental anguish.  These allegations have not been verified by DFPI.

This appears to be what is commonly called an “Advance Fee scheme,” which can take many forms, as discussed here:  https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/common-scams-and-crimes/advance-fee-schemes

The DFPI urges consumers to exercise extreme caution before responding to any solicitation offering investment or financial services.  To check whether an investment or financial service provider is licensed in California, consumers may contact the Department for questions or inquiries at ask.dfpi@dfpi.ca.gov or call toll-free at (866) 275-2677.  If a consumer believes a person or company has violated state law or acted improperly regarding a consumer financial product or service, they may file a formal complaint with the DFPI at https://dfpi.ca.gov/file-a-complaint/.