A CORKMAN has been duped into sending thousands of euro by Bitcoin to a person he met on a dating site.
The scam is currently under investigation by gardaí who highlight that scammers are now turning to Bitcoin transactions instead of money transfers through agencies such as Western Union.
In the so-called romance scam, the man met a person online who convinced him that she needed money sent to her because of a personal emergency.
The money was to be wired through Western Union but the man could not do so because he was not close to a Western Union outlet.
However, the scammer advised the man that he could instead send the money through a Bitcoin ATM, and managed to advise him of the location of one of Cork's few such ATMs in Cork city.
It is not known if the scammers had local knowledge or found the details of the Bitcoin facility online.
In many cases, such scams are operated outside of Ireland, making it very difficult to get money back or bring scammers to justice.
Crime prevention officer for Cork North, Sergeant John Kelly, is urging people to be very cautious when meeting someone online.
He said that people should do research on people they meet, including checking their photograph on Google searches to see if it shows up on other sites.
And he advised that anyone who has been conned by someone they met on a dating site should report it to the site.
In recent days, gardaí have cautioned people about romance fraud.
Last year, there were almost 200 cases of such frauds were reported to gardaí by both men and women.
The average amount lost was €20,000.
According to gardaí, the Covid-19 Regulations and travel restrictions have resulted in reduced social gatherings and as a result is generating opportunities for fraudsters to engage in online romance fraud.