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Scammed by one; “saved” by two

Updated: Feb 22, 2022

First Sunrise, 40, a legal professional, is a food enthusiast who uses Instagram to share photos of food that inspired her. In late July, she would meet three Instagram users who uses her interest in food to befriend her, although all with the same critical ulterior motive.

I was caught in between two, potentially even three, scammers.

First scammer: Allan

Allan messaged me on Instagram on July 23. He appeared to be a food enthusiast and asked me about a dish that I had posted. A quick glance at his profile showed he likes to take pictures of food as well, along with cars and expensive things. A show-off, so I presumed. The conversation then moved to life, more background, and eventually it moved to WhatsApp, as Allan claimed he didn’t use Instagram much. I didn’t have any issues continuing the conversation on WhatsApp, as many of my friends and family use it to communicate, so it was not a red flag for me. However, I did see him with new posts on Instagram every 1-2 days, so I wasn’t sure why he said he wasn’t active, but not something I cared about too much.

Allan’s current Instagram profile – deactivated as of September 27

We began chatting day and night. He would greet me daily and to be honest, it felt nice. None of my other friends do this, so it was nice to have that kind of attention. Allan said he is some kind of entrepreneur with businesses mostly in China, but moved to LA to take care of the division there. He is temporarily residing in LA, waiting to buy a house in West Vancouver as his sister is attending University in B.C. He said his elderly parents from China would also be moving there once he settles in. He coolly discussed the housing prices like it’s nothing… for those of you who don’t know, Vancouver is one of the most expensive places to live in the world. When you chat with someone who talks about throwing a few million dollars down on a house, and paying entirely in cash, you are left a bit impressed no matter what. Again, not a red flag to me, as there are a lot of rich Chinese people who buys houses in Vancouver.

We’d talk about becoming neighbors, to which I laughed at the idea. I live comfortably in Banff, A.B., but thought, you know, if this friendship does work out, I don’t mind having another friend to visit when I do go to Vancouver, and possibly gawk at his giant mansion! I am a bit of a realist. I wasn’t looking for a romantic relationship and certainly not a long distance one. Even as he professed his love for me, while it sounded flattering, I just could not believe it 100%. How can this tall, handsome, supposedly rich guy have his eyes on me, someone who is not immediately available, and with plenty of other women around him? I did however enjoy the friendship. He was a great listener and showed so much care. We could talk about anything and everything. He was supposedly five years younger than me, but he sounded so mature. He just always knew the right things to say, however, sometimes he did mess up, but I also wasn’t expecting him to remember everything I told him. Looking back, there were signs. For example, one night he brought up my low alcohol tolerance. I said to him that I have never told you that I am a light drinker. He responded, no, you did tell me, how else would I have known? A quick search in our chat history would’ve revealed that we had not discussed drinking prior, but I didn’t do that, and now I know he was confusing me with one of his other “pigs”. Also, he would ask for my selfies, but would never send me any. They would always be pictures he would have to dig up but when questioned, he would just say he doesn’t take selfies. Now I know why – he had to wait for the actual owner to post new pictures before he could steal them and send them to me.

Ah, the cryptocurrency part. It was brought up fairly early on. I have never touched crypto before but do know a bit about it. I am a low-moderate risk investor and have my funds allocated in ETFs and some high dividend paying stocks. I was content that way. Allan began showing me his profits on his trading platform, HKYY. I will say it was impressive, and when he asked me to try it out with him, I did do a search on Google, but at that time, nothing popped up. The link he sent me to download the app didn’t scream with any red flags, and it was probably because I just don’t have much knowledge on these trading platforms. My ignorance and carelessness caused me this problem, but it is a really good lesson learned.

Like every other victim of the pig butchering scam, the investments started out small, small win, was able to partially withdraw, then small greed got a hold of me – I wasn’t expecting big wins, I just wanted to be able to spend a bit more lavishly here and there. And I have told Allan this, I am not a greedy person – just some income supplement is good. He hardly pressured me into depositing extra money, but because we had talked about my finances before, he knew I had money to be swindled. He convinced me with multiple “wins” on the platform to the point where I was voluntarily willing to add more money. At this point I had put in $44,050 CAD (was able to get back about 16% so my total loss was $36,702) and was on the verge of adding more money, until I got intercepted by another person… my second scammer.

Second scammer: Aoki

Aoki approached me on Instagram on August 8 or 9, and his first message to me was asking if I was a food blogger, I told him no, just a food enthusiast! We chatted on Instagram for about 2-3 days before moving to WhatsApp. For some reason, I never warmed up to him. He was not as caring and attentive as Allan. He was arrogant and blunt, which offended me on several occasions. Not even a few days in he would question my Chinese, and I told him I was communicating in Chinese just for his convenience, how dare he say I wasn’t good at it? I told him off, but the next day he came back to apologize. However, over the course of our “relationship”, he would piss me off a few more times, yet each time he came back. Honestly, what kind of person has that kind of patience? He professed his love to me two times, but the first time I already told him I am not interested. The second time he tried it again, even asking how I felt about him, and again I very honestly told him I could not offer anything more than a friendship. If that is not good enough for him, he can stop talking to me. He still stuck around.

Interestingly enough, Aoki was also residing in LA. He came to LA a few years ago to escape the haunting death of his fiancée. I won’t go into too much detail since it is a fake backstory anyway, but he was also interested in food, cars, enjoying life. He very early on brought up crypto trading as well but because I was already doing that with Allan, I told Aoki I had no extra funds and I am not interested. I trusted Allan, but not Aoki… how laughable, right? Aoki got more and more aggressive, and questioned why wouldn’t I want to make a better life with some extra money? We had another huge fight and then I finally told him another “friend” was already helping me out! He then became mellow and started asking about our trades, what platform we use, etc. Once I gave him all the information he got really, really mad at me and started saying oh, it all makes sense why you won’t let me help you, because you already have someone else. Does this person like to share food pics with you and talk to you a lot? I was so shocked by what he said and thought, how did he know this? I said to him, am I not allowed to have other friends aside from you? What the heck is your problem? What is going on here? I got so upset that I went to bed without further responding.

Because Allan and Aoki were both supposedly in LA, I often wondered if they knew each other. Were they both in on this? But what would they gain from it? I would soon find out…

Potential third scammer: CY

This person was also from Instagram, and he messaged me the same night (Sept 13) Aoki and I were having a full-blown argument about my crypto-trades. He was supposedly a Singaporean residing in Vancouver, coolly bought his house for $3 million dollars, and does some kind of import/export business. His Instagram account shows a very lavish lifestyle with fancy cars, brand names and some food pics. He very quickly jumped onto the discussion of crypto-trades, and I said to him you know, you’re the third person I have met in the last two months talking about this. He said yeah, it’s the thing now, do you not trade? I told him yes, a friend helps me out with it, and he asked me which platform? I told him HKYY, to which he responded he has never heard of it before. We kind of left it at that, and I went to bed until the next morning, when everything fell apart…

Sept 14 – when everything fell apart

I woke up to CY messaging me saying that he did a search and that HKYY is a fake platform. Then I saw a slew of messages from Aoki also telling me the same thing. He said your life is yours, I don’t care, but try withdrawing from the platform and you’ll know what is happening. Panic started settling in, and for some reason this time when I googled up HKYY, the Global Anti-scam website appeared and when I read through the pig-butchering scam I realized what had really happened…

I was literally sick to my stomach, so when Allan messaged me with his usual good mornings, I tried so hard to hold it in. CY said to try and withdraw 10% of my funds and see if it worked, and he said he will help me come up with a plan for the rest. The 10% worked, and CY said I should wait a couple days before making another withdraw, but don’t alert Allan. Of course, Allan would know exactly when I am withdrawing, but he couldn’t really question me, because how would he otherwise know? So, it was really hard to play along with him when I already knew what was happening. At this point, I noticed his tone changed while talking to me (probably a different scammer has taken over by now) and I also changed my tone, but we kept it amicable.

By the evening, I was really upset and berating myself for so blindly trusting a stranger on the internet, but now was not the time for emotions. I needed to clear my head and see what other damage control I could do. CY and Aoki kept messaging me to check up on me and offering more advice. They both suggested I make up a sob story to Allan and see if I can withdraw more money. I gave him the story without issues, but as expected, HKYY customer service gave me some BS story and wouldn’t release my funds. CY said sorry, I think you need to give up. I thanked him and accepted my fate. Aoki on the other hand insisted there may still be something else I can do, but after reading so many other victim stories, I knew there was no way I was getting my money back.

No reason given to deny my withdraws

The next morning, I sent a message to Allan, telling him that I knew what was going on and I have reported to the police. I immediately blocked him. Not even 30 min later, a different number messaged me saying Allan had something important to relay to me and to please unblock him. Nope. They called; I didn’t pick up. Over the next four days a different number would message me, all from Allan, saying he is using his friend’s phone to message me and to please give him a chance to explain. I kept blocking them all, as I knew my money was gone and they were just trying to trap me by playing with my emotions again. Saturday, Sept 18, another one of Allan’s friends sent me a hand written letter from Allan. It outlines the things we spoke of, my goals, dreams, how important I am to him, and second page was explaining that HKYY is not a scam and I just need to wait two weeks before I can withdraw my money. It was a very sad and sappy farewell letter – it almost made me want to respond, but I didn’t. I cannot let these people get to me anymore. I thought this was the end of it.

Do any of these numbers look familiar to you?

Aoki had been so supportive since the ordeal and even called me twice to cheer me up. I admit it, it helped, as at the time I still didn’t know he was a scammer. It wasn’t until I was going through Allan’s Instagram account and I noticed that he posted the same pictures that Aoki had sent me. It cannot be a coincidence! So I confronted Aoki, to which he wouldn’t admit or deny, but explained that his photos were hacked and that’s why he shut down his Instagram account. By now my guards are once again up, and I would say various things to test him to see if he was after my money. He did ask me if I was suffering a financial loss as a result of getting scammed, and I replied no, it is not an amount that will affect me. He seemed happy to hear that and said that had I met him first, before Allan, this wouldn’t have happened… yeah, right. He would start talking in the same way Allan initially did, which confused me greatly, and which again raised my suspicions.

Aoki not admitting or denying anything… very vague

In no time, he tried to introduce me to his trading platform, I could not google anything on bitmaster – if you try, it comes up as a legitimate video game. So, I went on the Global Anti-scam website, and lo and behold, it is listed as a fake website. I once again relayed this information to Aoki and he said he had no issues using it, but just left it at that. I think at that moment his group of scammers realized that I cannot be hooked and have given up on me. We silently stopped talking and I went on to block him.

I then went to check up on CY’s Instagram account and it has been disabled, so I am convinced he is also a scammer but because I had already been scammed, he was not interested in preying on me. I now realize Aoki was so upset because he found out that he could’ve gotten my money and instead, he lost to a different scammer. Since he was so pissed, he decided to intercept the other scammer. For that, I really have to thank him and CY, or my financial loss would’ve been a lot more substantial. All I can say is, his technique was not as great as Allan’s and that’s why he could not get me to open up to him at all.

It’s still fresh and raw, and while losing the money does suck, it hurt me a lot, as I was emotionally invested in Allan. I really thought he was going to be a great friend, and I really thought we cared about each other. Instead, how foolish was I to talk about my dreams, my hopes and my goals to a group of scammers, who used this information to play and manipulate me? This was the part that hurt the most – I opened up my heart to a group of people who were probably laughing at everything I was telling them – I was completely violated.

I am blessed in the sense that my monetary loss is not a blow to my finances, and that I am strong enough to heal quickly and move on, but not everyone is in the same situation. Understand that we are not stupid and foolish – the smartest people still get swindled. These crooks are just that good – you are working against a group of people, not just one person. They are good at what they’re doing. Next time someone randomly messages you, just be cautious. I’m not saying to never trust people again, but do so cautiously.

Just remember the old saying, if it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.

--First Sunrise


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