The perfect tool for The Perfect Scam — a special two-part podcast — bobsullivan.net

“It’s just a perfect payment mechanism for people who want to do bad things.” — Lee Reiners, FinTech professor at Duke University .

Mei Mei Soe was using LinkedIn to find a new job when a friendly, fellow Chinese-speaker asked to connect. Mei Mei, 42, has suffered with debilitating nerve pain most of her adult life, and she was looking for an opportunity that would let her stay off her feet a bit more.  Yanjun Li spent a few days getting to know Mei Mei, expressing a lot of sympathy about her pain, and then made a bold suggestion: Why not invest in crypto? Mei Mei knew nothing about cryptocurrency, but Yanjun offered to virtually hold her hand through the process.

She was skeptical, but dipped her toe into the crypto pool, buying $500 worth of Bitcoin.  Then she followed Yanjun’s instructions, moving the digital cash onto another platform. Soon, it was worth more than $1,000. She transferred the money back to her bank account, proving to herself that the gains were real, and then she was hooked. Within a few weeks, she’d invested all her life savings — more than $100,000 — with Yanjun’s help. She also used her perfect credit score to secure another $150,000 in loans, and invested that, too. It was a big risk, but at this point, her account showed a balance of about $650,000.

A few weeks later, she tried to withdraw some of the money, and her whole world collapsed. The website that showed her $650,000 in crypto was fake; Yanjun was fake.  The pain was…

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