How Reality TV Star Mishel Karen Lost $160,000 in a Double Whammy


How Reality TV Star Mishel Karen Lost $160,000 in a Double Whammy

Romance and investment scams have overwhelmed the Australian Married at First Sight contestant and OnlyFans content creator

David Braue

Melbourne, Australia – October 9, 2023

She hoped they would help her finally find love, but Mishel Karen’s famous stints had a much different effect as the reality star turned OnlyFans content creator was targeted by scammers who ultimately took approximately $160,000 (AU$250,000). of her and her family.

Karen — who gained national fame in her native Australia after appearing on the top-rated reality TV show Married at First Sight (MAFS), but fails to find love with her TV “husband” Steve Burley – started a new career on OnlyFans after her refusal to get a COVID-19 vaccine left her unemployed, broke and homeless under strict Australian regulations compulsory vaccination diet.

The OnlyFans effort proved profitable, earning Karen tens of thousands of dollars – but it was the success of this project that she now believes has attracted the attention of scammers who would eventually prey on her greatest weakness.

“You become a target,” she says told Cybercrime Magazinerecounting how she came across online advertisements for cryptocurrency investment programs that seemed like a real opportunity to make good returns on investment.

Convinced by the advertisements’ use of the purported testimonial of a well-known television financial advisor in Australia, Karen contacted representatives of the putative investment company Everrise Brokers, asking a consultant to contact her for more information.

Radio on cybercrime: Mishel Karen, MAFS star

Victim of a complex love scam

“It just started from there,” she said, now admitting that looking back she was “very naive or gullible.”

At the time, however, the program seemed like a promising opportunity to turn around one’s fortunes: “I wanted to get into crypto for a bit, and all of a sudden it was a legitimate financier in Australia who recommended it “, she said.

“Every time I Googled them, there were legitimate stories about this company,” she said — and the returns, at least initially, were real.

“Initially, they only needed a little money,” Karen recalls, with initial investments of $200 or $300 quickly generating returns three times higher – and the brokerage “really wanted me return it.”

“I received returns, and they sent them back to my bank account,” she said. “I think (now) it was a move to make you feel safer.”

The initial feedback made Karen feel comfortable enough to allow Everrise representatives to remotely access her computer under the guise of helping them help her.

“The fact that they’re giving back that little gift legitimizes it in your head,” she said, “and you can tell your family and friends, ‘I invested money and they even returned money.” It’s very, very well played. They know what they’re doing.

Once again, with emotion

She didn’t realize it at the time, but Karen’s dalliance with what she believed to be a robust cryptocurrency investment scheme was just the beginning of her nightmare — and she’s far from it. to be the only one.

Investment scams are by far the most successful scams in Australia, according to the Scam Monitoring service now run by Australia’s new National Anti-Scam Center, which checked in $142 million (A$222 million) in losses resulting from almost 6,000 scams reported in the first eight months of this year alone.

Phone, social media, internet, email and mobile apps are all being exploited by scammers to great effect in Australia — a phenomenon seen around the world, with the US Federal Trade Commission also having it recently observed. noting that he was informed of $2.7 billion in fraudulent losses from social media in the 30 months from January 2021 to June 2023.

If her desire to make a quick buck draws her into the malevolent orbit of Everrise Brokers, Karen’s high-profile social media habits would also become her undoing.

Although she marveled at his quick returns and even recommended friends and family to join in, the Everrise Brokers fraudsters had clearly noticed her long-standing search for love, which was a common theme from his time on MAFS and his new career on Only the Fans.

After investing around $US20,000 ($12,900), she decided to opt out of the scheme and withdraw some of her winnings. It was at this point that his account was transferred to the personal care of a broker named “Charles Adamson”, who promised personal repayment. the service quickly became more than a little personal.

“When they could no longer deceive me on the financial side, they called this guy in,” Karen said. “They got this new guy who was romantic, single, from the UK, and very exotic, and he started running my account when the other guy got sick.”

“He was the manager, and he would take care of me personally, and we would do a lot of growing up – and that’s when the romantic side started.”

An increasing volume of personal contact led to “a deluge of text messages, phone calls, flowers and chocolates,” Karen said, recalling that not only did this attention make her feel flattered and in love, but she also helped her spend money on Charles’ wedding. so-called investment projects.

“It was like a full-blown romance, and I think my public persona really helped fuel that thing. I really want to find my “man” and I went on TV to try to find him.

It turns out that Charles was well aware of his identity.

“It was like this guy was speaking my language,” she said, recalling how the escalating romance led her to offer to take her to the UK. “It was a whirlwind romance and we talked every day.”

Looking back, she said, the man’s courtship was a little too perfect — and she now realizes that his social media profile was likely the guide to his advances.

“I think the fact that they could go on my social media and see what I was doing played a big role,” Karen said. “Everything I had posted in the last two days, it came back. I had my “one” listed on my social media. “

“He knew the type of content I was putting out, and he had all the characteristics, and was so charming, and he was everything I ever wanted.”

“You don’t really think about it at the time, because you fall in love with this person you don’t even know. Even after I realized it was a scam, I kind of mourned the loss of this romance.

Denouement – ​​and loss

Karen is far from the only person to fall for an attractive stranger online. Romance scams, according to the FTC and Scam Monitoring report, are the second largest fraud vector, behind investment scams.

As standalone scams, either type of fraud would have been problematic for Karen – but as a one-two punch that lured her in again and again by preying on her weaknesses, the combination of Investment and romance scams proved devastating not only for her. heart, but also for his bank balance.

In total, she said, she lost more than $70,000 — and family members who bought into her enthusiastic recommendations shelled out “nearly $200,000” more.

Yet despite losing so much money to her supposed dream man, it wasn’t until Karen fell on hard times – she had to withdraw money to cover some medical expenses after an admission in the hospital – that Charles turned evil almost overnight.

“I told him, ‘I’m really not feeling well and I have to be in the hospital for over a week,’ and all of a sudden Charles is unresponsive,” Karen said, recalling that She had been told that he was absent and that she had been the subject of an investigation by his office. .

“I just thought, ‘It’s weird because Charles is the manager and he could do anything, and now they’re telling me he’s under investigation,'” Karen said. “I said, ‘I don’t care if Charles isn’t here, I just need $5,000 for my hospital,’ and they would just pass it on to me.”

It wasn’t until a “heavy” from Everrise contacted her, and was “actually quite brusque and rude”, that Karen thought: “That just doesn’t sound right.” »

“Until now, everyone was very professional, and this heavy wasn’t. I just thought, “This is a scam. »

It didn’t take long for Karen to discover how right she was. Although review site Trustpilot initially stopped her derogatory publication comments about Everrise Brokers – which was initially filled with positive Comments – scammers pushed back via the reviews site and more recent comments reveals a conga lineage of other victims.

Everrise Brokers had, a reviewer note in May, scooped up $180,000 in retirement savings while another victim said the company “stole all our funds that we invested + all our earnings that we accumulated over 6 months”.

It was only in August this year that the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority issued a formal warning regarding Everrise, advise potential customers that the company is not authorized, telling them: “You should avoid dealing with this company and be wary of potential scams” – and that because of its warning, scam protection resources could not be available.

A review, published in August, even mentioned “Charles Adamson” by name – alongside co-con artists “David Barof” and “Alexander Green” – confirming that Karen was not the only person “Charles” was using his tricks on.

Karen, however, is still sick after being “humiliated” by the scammers – who extracted the windfall her OnlyFans account produced and left her struggling to recover her funds from a financial system that was not able to help him. .

“Everyone I talked to said there was nothing they could do,” Karen said. “They tell you to file (a complaint) with cybercrime centers across Australia, but they can’t do anything either. So I have a delinquency report number, but that’s it. There is absolutely nothing done about it. »

David Braue is an award-winning technology writer based in Melbourne, Australia.

Go here to read all articles from David’s Cybercrime Magazine.

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