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Romance Scam that Goes for the Whole Hog

Backed reportedly by crime syndicates in China, a new romance scam known as “pig butchering” is on the rise, trapping people with long-term health problems, who are older, widowed, and who feel isolated. The goal is to spend long periods “fattening” them with fake love and investment offers, then drain them of their money, the whole hog, through bogus cryptocurrency investments.

Scammers use SMS texting or other social networking, dating, and communication platforms to contact potential victims. The scammer takes advantage of the chance to discuss and lead the victim to believe they have a new buddy. After building a connection over a more extended period than the traditional romance scam, the assailant will mention that they have successfully invested in cryptocurrencies and urge the target to do the same before the opportunity fades.

It’s tempting, and for those who succumb, the con artist sets up a malicious app or website that seems trustworthy and may even pass for the platforms of reputable financial institutions. Victims may frequently view real-time market data to show the investment’s potential. If the target invests, they might even see an increase in the investment. They even encouraged the victim to make a small withdrawal.

Once the victim has deposited all the money they have and everything, the scammers shut down the account and disappear.

Watch for warning signs

To avoid becoming a victim of a pig butchering-type scam, watch for these red flags and know how to protect yourself: 

Unexpected contact: Never reply to unwanted messages from people you don’t know, even when they’re discussing things that appear innocent. 

Refusal to join in video chats: While you may have a video chat after you’ve invested and shown a fake increase in investment funds, the person you will see is playing by a script. The scammer will refuse to communicate in person until it’s time for the scripted video chat. 

Inquiry about finances: Never reveal private financial information to anyone you haven’t met. Put a stop to the connection if a new online acquaintance or romantic interest asks about money.

Investment advice: Be skeptical of any unsolicited investment advice or ideas, mainly if they come from someone you’ve only spoken to online and even when they advise you to trade through your account. What do you gain from providing recommendations?  Does the deal align with your financial objectives? 

Heightened emotions: Be wary of any investment that makes bold promises or promises returns that are significantly higher than typical. Fraudsters frequently appeal to emotions by using what they know about you, such as asking, “Don’t you want to have money to send your kids to college?” 

Let’s get ahead of the fraudsters

Following cyber-safe best practices like monitoring and avoidance tips can help you and your family protect your family against romance scams.

To learn more about consumer concerns and romance scams, you can download our mobile app, FRAUDSTER, available on Apple and Android. You can learn more at www.FraudsterApp.com.

If you’ve already downloaded the FraudsterApp, click the training icon on the home screen to learn to protect yourself. 

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