Shady crypto exchange used in Tinder dating scam

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Shady crypto exchange used in Tinder scam

Tinder-loving crypto enthusiasts beware! The next time you ‘swipe right,’ you could be setting yourself up to get swindled out of your hard-earned coins. Here’s what you need to know about the con – and the exchange the scammers are using to pull it off.

In addition to social networks like Twitter and Facebook, the popular dating app Tinder has become a hunting ground for crypto scammers.

Reddit user bastian74 recently posted a warning about the scam, admitting that he came close to falling for it himself.

How the Tinder crypto scam works

The scam itself is pretty simple. Asian women – or at least profiles of people pretending to be Asian women – are connecting with people on the app who have noted an interest in cryptocurrencies in their own profiles.

Once they make a connection, the scammers will build the relationship over several weeks without ever mentioning cryptocurrency.

They’ll send photos, have conversations outside of Tinder – even phone calls and video chat – all in an effort to reel in their victims.

Then, several weeks in, the girl will “casually” mention this cryptocurrency that they happen to have insider info on.

She gives her victim an invite code to a website where they can buy this crypto and when they deposit funds, it never appears in their account.

Then the girl – and the victim’s funds – disappear.

“It sounds like an obvious scam when I summarize it, but they are successful,” bastian74 said.

“Since September two people alone have admitted in reviews to losing $60k combined with many others losing a few $K.”

Tinder scammers use dodgy crypto exchange to con traders
ADDEX crypto exchange (add-ex.io)

Tinder scammers use dodgy crypto exchange to con traders

In the various comments and complaints about this particular Tinder crypto scam, most of them seem to have two things in common – the crypto exchange people are being sent to and the token being promoted.

The token being promoted is called PCT Token (PCT). It isn’t listed on CoinMarketCap or any of the other market data aggregators and the only exchange that lists it is ADDEX – the same exchange the Tinder girls are sending people to.

The token’s contract address, as noted in an announcement on the exchange, is 0xc71349082c683da9ae1a3cf07cf35ddf3cc57a67.

ADDEX claims to be a “global professional digital currency trading platform that provides blockchain technology services and digital asset trading” that has been around since 2017.

The exchange requires an invitation code to sign up, which one would-be victim was kind enough to send to Micky for the purposes of this article.

The signup process is simple – nothing alarming there. An inexperienced trader might look at the website and see just another crypto exchange, but there is a laundry list of warning signs that scream “STAY AWAY.”

No SSL = no security

Take a look at the address bar of your browser. See that padlock icon next to the URL of this article?

If you click at the end of the URL in the address bar, you will also see ‘https://’ at the beginning of the URL as well.

Those two things mean that communication between your browser and the website you are browsing is encrypted by an SSL certificate.

It is basic level security that every website should have – especially websites where you will be providing personal and financial information about yourself.

ADDEX does not have an SSL certificate installed so it is not secure.

No contact information

If you look at any legitimate crypto exchange, there are a number of ways to contact them. Email, social media, Telegram, etc…

Not ADDEX.

In fact, the only means of contact is a free outlook.com email address.

KYC for withdrawals only

Depositing funds on ADDEX is easy – no KYC required. It is only when you click on the Withdraw tab that you are prompted to verify your identity.

ADDEX KYC required for withdrawals only
ADDEX KYC required for withdrawals only

To verify one’s identity, the exchange asks for the user to upload an unedited front and back copy of their passport or other state-issued identification.

In addition, the user is asked to upload a photo of themselves holding their ID along with a note that reads:

“I know that the investment of digital currency is of great risk, and I am willing to participate in it at my own risk. I guarantee that I will not provide identity information to others, and I will not use the gate account for illegal behavior. If I violate the rules, I am willing to bear the legal risks.”

As if this wasn’t enough of a red flag, remember the SSL issue? Users are being asked to provide this sensitive information on a website with zero encryption or security.

Conflicting dates and copyright information

The ADDEX website claims it was established in 2017 but at the bottom of the website, the copyright year is listed as 2018.

A WHOIS lookup of the domain name, however, shows that add-ex.io was not registered until August 30, 2019.

More WHOIS shenanigans

In addition to the website age issue, there is no information available about the owner of the domain name.

They aren’t using a privacy service to hide their information, they’ve simply published gibberish information, which domain registrars don’t bother to check.

Domain owner information for ADDEX
Domain owner information for ADDEX (GoDaddy)

Registrant name “hhh yyy”? City name “ff”? The only pieces of information that might be accurate are the province and country.

Can’t actually buy/sell cryptocurrencies

That’s right. This is one crypto exchange where you can’t buy or sell cryptocurrencies. You can only deposit funds.

When I first created a test account on ADDEX, I pulled up the exchange dashboard and went to the PCTUSDT market.

When I clicked on the “Buy PCT” button, I expected an alert telling me that I needed to deposit funds first.

What I got instead was a message telling me that: “The current public offering phase has not been completed and the personal transaction has not been opened.”

What is so strange about that, you ask?

If you look at the screenshot below, you can clearly see open buy and sell orders and a history of recently completed transactions.

ADDEX PCTUSDT market dashboard
ADDEX PCTUSDT market dashboard

Even crazier, the exact same message popped up no matter which trading pair I selected. BTCETH, BTCUSDT, ETHUSDT, you get the idea.

Mind you, I’m not saying that ADDEX is behind the Tinder crypto scam. I’m not even saying that they are willing participants in it.

What I am saying is that there are enough warning signs here to convince me that I’d be better off putting my trusty crypto wallet down the garbage disposal than depositing crypto on this website.