San Antonio kindergarten teacher loses $6500 in dating app bitcoin scam

‘I thought I was putting my money into the New York Stock Exchange,’ Beth Hutchinson says

SAN ANTONIO – When kindergarten teacher Beth Hutchinson met “Robert” on the Bumble dating app, he seemed like a potential match.

“He was saying that he was adopted, grew up in Switzerland, moved to the U.S. about three or four years ago,” she recalled.

He suggested they move their conversations off the platform and to the private messaging app, WhatsApp.

After a couple of weeks of messaging, including heart emojis, she said he offered to teach her about trading and investing.

“He showed me how to take money from my account, turn it into Bitcoin and then be able to start using it to trade and whatnot on the New York Stock Exchange,” Hutchinson said.

She started with $1,000. Within a few weeks, she’d turned $6,500 into cryptocurrency and invested it on a website “Robert” said was the New York Stock Exchange. It looked promising.

“Every time I did it, I was always gaining money up to a point where it was a couple hundred at a time,” she said. “I thought I was putting my money in the New York Stock Exchange.”

But when “Robert” became aggressive and threatening, she felt something was wrong and called the real New York Stock Exchange.

“I gave them the web address, and they said, ‘That’s not one of ours,’” Hutchinson said. “My heart just dropped into my stomach.”

The website was bogus, but the money she’d invested was real. It was also gone.

It’s hardly the first time an online flirt turned out to be a fake. Last year, crypto romance scammers duped people out of some $139 million dollars, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

It’s a highly lucrative scam they preys on emotions and human nature.

“There’s a genuine fear of missing out of missing out on the next best investing opportunity,” said Jason Meza with the Better Business Bureau.

Warning signs that Romeo or Juliet may be a scammer include moving the conversation off the original platform and to a private messaging app that’s encrypted.

Other red flags are turning the conversation to money and never being able to actually meet in person.

Hutchinson said the fact that he never actually asked for her accounts probably gave her a false sense of security. “Robert” also said he lived in Chicago, and when he called to video chat, it was always while she was at work and couldn’t answer.

She knows she’s highly unlikely to get recover her money. She has filed reports with the FBI and BBB. Now, she wants to warn others about sweet talkers who are out to steal hearts and money.

“Everyone’s like, ‘Well, I’d be smarter than that,’” she said. “Well most people view me as a pretty intelligent person, but it still happened to me, too.”

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About the Authors

Marilyn Moritz is an award-winning journalist dedicated to digging up information that can make people’s lives a little bit better. As KSAT’S 12 On Your Side Consumer reporter, she focuses on exposing scams and dangerous products and helping people save money.

Luis Cienfuegos is a photographer at KSAT 12.

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