Updated: Feb 22, 2022
Watercress, a 32-year-old healthcare worker from Oklahoma City was only casually dating online when she started to slowly develop feelings for him. He would later not just steal her money, but also indelibly changed her worldview on money.
I met him online through Hinge in April 2021. We first started chatting in English, but I found the conversation strained by his English, which was difficult to understand. Because my profile picture showed that I am Asian, he asked if we could chat in Chinese instead; I told him sure, although my Chinese isn’t that great, but nevertheless, we ended up conversing entirely in Chinese.
Thus began his daily greetings via WhatsApp chat: he would always wish me a good morning at the start of the day, and wish me a good night before sleeping. If I didn’t respond for a while, he would check up on me. I remember on the second day after we “met”, I hadn't messaged him all day, so he called me. I was shocked to already receive a call from him, so I didn’t pick up, which made him mad; he said he already wanted us to be a couple, and while he would always check up on me, I never checked up on him. He certainly showed his attentiveness and eagerness early on: sometimes my work schedule required me to be up at 5am, so he would wake me up with a morning call.
His strength -- and my weakness -- were his sweet nothings. Here he explains that every woman has a "princess dream" in her heart and want to be spoiled; at the same time, he asserts that a man is not measured by his success, but by how the woman by his side is. "Fool, be good to yourself," he says, "I will be your back, and you will be mine."
Initially, I actually felt that our correspondence was getting to be too much, as our messaging was taking up a lot of my time! When he told me it really excited him whenever I initiated the conversation, and that he loved me a lot, I thought, how do you love someone you’ve never met? I was still playing along, though. And so, most nights, we would talk on the phone for about 1-2 hours before I went to bed, but it was always him who called me. In fact, when I called him, he never picked up immediately; he would only call back minutes later. Furthermore, when I told him to call me, he still never called right away – he always needed a few minutes, with excuses like he had to go to the washroom first.
This wasn’t the only thing that was puzzling about him.
I noticed from the way he spoke that he didn’t sound like someone with a professional white-collar job. He said he studied architecture in college and now worked in the U.S. because his uncle who owns a construction company had a branch in Oklahoma (tsvan.com, he told me). Despite allegedly being local, whenever I asked to meet up, he said he couldn’t, as they were working on a big project, even giving me the schedule of when the project would be finished. When later I asked to meet up again, he said the project had been delayed and that it wouldn’t be finished until the next month, after which he said he had to fly to LA for work. I asked for a video chat when he was supposedly in LA, but he said he couldn't because he was still at work. Seriously though, who works more than 12 hours a day and 7 days a week? He did, apparently, telling me that he had to be at the company starting at about 10am and wouldn’t get home until 11pm or midnight. When I asked for some selfies, the ones he sent were pictures taken in 2019 from his Twitter account. I doubted his identity, so I asked for a photo of his passport, and he did send me a picture of a hand holding it, but I still wasn’t sure if it was really him.
Finances came into play when I mentioned the expenses I had to pay: describing them must have made it seem like I had a lot of money. He asked what my salary was, and upon hearing my response he indicated that his was double of mine. I thought, “hm, he has money, let’s keep playing along”. He brought up crypto-trading when he said trading Bitcoin is part of his business and wanted to involve me in it. I refused at first because I hadn’t known him for that long, and I didn’t have much knowledge of cryptocurrency. Whenever I refused, he would get mad, but he would keep pushing me. I didn’t like him pressuring me and should’ve ended our relationship at that point, but then I reached out to a couple of friends who were knowledgeable in crypto-trading and they made it seem okay to do, but this was because they didn’t know that I would be transferring cryptocurrency from Coinbase to a third-party platform that he recommended, huibetd.com, in order to trade.
Just prior to trading on Huibetd and referring to himself as "Hubby", he promised that if we were by each other's side, he would give his account over to me to manage, and he would teach me how to observe "good trend nodes". "From now on, hubby will make money for wifey," he says, just before giving the transaction order: sell short, 60 seconds, 21000 USDT.
He would handle all of the planning, he assured me; all I had to do was just transact as he instructed (he would always tell me exactly when to buy and how much), after he had studied the “trend nodes” to plan our investment. As I carefully sent screenshots of each step on the app and he patiently guided me through the process, I asked, “Wouldn’t it be easier to do this in person?”, but he continued to make excuses about meeting up. And so, he guided me with a trade for $600, which later led to his plans for $20K worth of trading, then $50K, and even more. To gain my trust, he would actually transfer funds from his account to mine on the huibetd app, while we were waiting my funds to complete their transfer from Coinbase to the huibetd app. He continued to pressure me into adding more money and would get mad when I didn’t, and in turn, I would get mad at him because I felt that we are always talking about money, and because he still refused to meet in person.
By this time, my friends and family knew about him and me, telling me to be careful, and a lot of friends had already warned me to stop talking to him because of his refusal to meet up, but it was too late: I was already in too deep. The emotions and sweet-talking had already blinded me: he always talked about us having a family together, marriage, using the money we were earning to buy a big house, even talking about how we would design it. He always told me he would take care of me, love me, and how I wouldn’t have to go to work after we got married.
With time, he became very much on my mind; whenever he got mad and didn’t talk to me, I would miss him and initiate conversation again. I felt very attached to him, as if he was the only person in the world that I can tell everything to. I enjoyed our conversations a lot too, as they felt so natural, and I even told him that my friends and family didn’t trust him; in reply, he said that together we would prove them all wrong. A part of me wanted to satisfy him, which is why I kept transferring money to his recommended trading platform.
Everything he said was so well-scripted, playing my emotions well. No one expected this to be a scam.
"If other people cannot give you a sense of security, you must only work hard, making yourself tough. But at this time, if there is a man who can be someone that you can rely on --- let you rest assured that you can follow him, without you having to think about any sort of problems --- baby, I want to be this man."
After each “plan” and trade, I told him that I was done and don’t have any more money to add. He would wait a week or two before asking me to add more money to the account. The final investment plan was a 30-day plan before the settlement would end, where we would earn $1MM – and at the end of the 30-day plan, my account showed a total of $2MM in the digital currency QCC. He said he wanted to make another plan, but I had no money left, so he told me to get a loan from upstart.com. I refused, despite his pressuring, as I was still trying to meet up with him. This time, when he was supposedly coming back to Oklahoma for real, he said he had to quarantine at a hotel because he was unvaccinated. I knew we were not required to do that in Oklahoma, and even called the hotel he allegedly was staying at to verify that that this wasn’t the case. I stopped believing his words at this time.
I then tried to withdraw money from the app, but it gave me the message of “insufficient trading volume”. The huibetd customer service explained that it was a combination of transferred money and money that I added, and that I also must do some trading before I can withdraw. I tried to do the trading on my own, but I ended up losing a chunk of the money, as displayed on the platform’s website. I thought of using up the entire balance on the app, since I couldn’t get my money back anyway, but I wasn’t sure how that would affect him, so I went to tell him about this. He told me he would have to come up with another plan to make the money back, and that I should just wait for his plan. The next day when I tried to access the app again, I found my account had been disabled. I told him and assured me that he would call me right away, as his account had also been disabled. Customer service said that the 30-day plan that he made was considered an illegal operation, so they froze my account. To unfreeze it, I would need to pay a penalty of 20% of the $2M in the account, or my account would be suspended.
Thus, my investment of $270K would thus remain frozen in the account.
"If there's something that makes you uncomfortable, you can tell me, after all, we are all trying to improve our quality of life. Isn't it the same with your work?" he says. "I share with you what I think is good, hoping that we will have a better future. We can have our own world; I have not participated in your past, but I will accompany you through your future."
After this experience, I can tell you that they definitely played with my mind.
Before this, I thought $500 was a lot of money; now, I don’t even see $20K as very much.