Date Posted: 
Friday, January 19, 2024

The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI), Securities Division has received a complaint from a Washington resident regarding, a website that has since been disabled.

The investor met a stranger online, named “Cindy Pham,” on the dating app Bumble. Cindy claimed to use algorithms and AI to trade “crypto options” on the website  The investor decided to trade under the guidance of Cindy and purchased the cryptocurrency Ethereum, which was then converted to the stablecoin USDT. After a few weeks of trading, the stranger convinced the investor to trade at a higher cycle time, which required additional funds. A couple of weeks later, the investor was told they could not withdraw from their account as they were suspected to be involved in market manipulation. The investor was told that they would need to deposit additional funds to avoid the consequences of non-compliance. The investor lost a total of $8,000. These allegations have not been verified by DFI.

This appears to be what is commonly called “Advance Fee Fraud,” which can take many forms.  It also appears to be what is commonly called a "Pig Butchering” scheme, as well as a “Romance Scam.”

DFI urges consumers to exercise extreme caution before responding to any solicitation offering investment or financial services. Investment professionals need to be licensed with DFI to offer investments to Washington residents. In addition, most investment products sold need to be registered with DFI. To check the licensing status and to find out if there are any complaints against an investment professional or investment product, please visit FINRA Brokercheck or contact the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions, Securities Division at (360) 902-8760. If you live outside of Washington State, contact your state securities regulator.

If a consumer believes a person or company has violated state law or acted improperly regarding an investment product or service, they may file a formal complaint with the Securities Division.

Additional Resources

Virtual Currency, Cryptocurrency, and Digital Assets Information for Consumers

Information regarding investing strategies, investment products, and how to protect yourself from fraud

What You Can Do to Avoid Investment Fraud