Oleanders, from Spain, explains how his meeting a girl on Tinder piqued his interest in the use of a blockchain platform for COVID-19 vaccine supply and distribution management -- a real subject of academic research interest. What was not real, however, was the particular vaccine smart chain cryptocurrency that his romantic interest had introduced to him, as well as his romantic interest herself.
At the end of October 2021, I met a girl on Tinder with Asian features who called herself Loewy. She claimed to be from Edinburgh, born to a Scottish father and a Singaporean mother, and said that she was going to be in Alicante for less than a week to visit her sister, brother-in-law and niece.
During the time she was finally supposed to be in Alicante, Loewy said she couldn’t meet in person, as she was suffering from GI issues (constipation), purportedly because of the temperature difference between her country and Spain. Apart from the photographs she sent me, I also received videos and audio messages, so I did not suspect that the profile was fake.
Investments in the Cryptocurrency Coin Vaccine Smart Chain
After talking to her for a few days, she brought up the subject of investment and informed me of a cryptocurrency project related to Covid-19, a coin called VSC (Vaccine Smart Chain), which uses blockchain technology and smart contracts for the distribution of vaccines.
As I am generally quite curious, I began to research the subject. Apart from the white paper found on the web (https://vsc.bitfine.net/), where the aforementioned cryptocurrency can be acquired, which we now know to be fraudulent, I found quite a lot of technical documentation elaborated in other sources on the concept, which was real. One of the reports that I read extensively is the one prepared by the Cluj Napoca Technical University (Romania):
Additionally, I found that major companies like IBM were working on the same technology, as well as researchers at the University of Pennsylvania:
Armed with the above information, I faithfully believed and was excited by the project she described, which led to my investment.
The fraudulent platform: BITFINE.NET
Once my entire savings had been transferred to this fraudulent website through Coinbase (18,500 euros, $21K USD), I had intended to withdraw the funds once I earned some profits.
From then on, Loewy confessed to me her idea of living in Spain with me and starting a family, but that first we should invest more to provide for our future. She tried to convince me to ask for loans from friends and family. Her irrational suggestion of involving loved ones in taking out loans for investment, as well as promises of high returns from this cryptocurrency, set off the alarm bells within me.
I tried to withdraw my money, but it was too late: they had blocked my withdrawal. I threatened them that I would go to the authorities if they did not unblock my account, but then received the following email (see below), in which they stated that in order to allow for withdrawal, I must invest up to 50,000 USDT.
Once I saw this, I became fully aware that I had been scammed: I felt as if my world was collapsing. I stayed home crying for three days without wanting to eat or go out, blaming myself for how stupid I had been. On the fourth day, I began to muster up the courage to write this report, in the hopes that doing so will prevent more victims from falling prey to this scam, which is when I discovered the term “Pig-Butchering Scam” or “Crypto-Romance Scam." In recent years, it has succeeded in Asia, but people already knew about it there, and it had now just begun to spread to Europe and the United States.
Behind this scam is an entire web, network, and team: an IT department, an individual designated to contact you through social networks, another who uses psychology to make you trust the person who just contacted you, and still another who is in charge of spamming the web with blogs related to cryptocurrency, espousing the virtues of this fake VSC coin, just so that when unsuspecting new crypto investors attempt to do their due diligence in researching this new coin, they manage to find literature (a lot of quantity, though in hindsight, not very high quality).
The following links are the ones that I have been able to find on the web in this regard. Please note that all of these blog posts promote FALSE INFORMATION. All the information is garbage. The scam companies publish false information online to attempt to fool prospective investors into thinking that the platform or cryptocurrency coin is legitimate. This reveals just how insidious the scam operations are.
You'll notice that all of these "articles" are identical to each other, and the content is full of jargon, but upon closer inspection, is actually completely nonsensical.
Editor's Note: Recently with the pandemic (and perhaps the worry of the omicron variant), scammers are now also using Covid incentives as bonuses, with some sites promoting vaccines, ventilators, etc. if the investor reaches a certain amount of deposit or trading.