Scams are nothing new. We’ve all heard the cautionary tale about emails from a “friend” asking for a loan while they wait for their enormous trust fund to kick in.
But the latest online dating scam is much more clever than a shady email. It also has a new angle: cryptocurrency investing. Known as the “Pig Butchering Scam,” it started in China but is now targeting dating sites all over the world. It’s become such a problem that the FBI recently sent out this warning. They’ve received over 1,800 complaints about this new scam in the first seven months of 2021 alone.
This scam can be harder to spot than others, but that doesn’t mean you have to feel unsafe while dating. Keep reading to learn the ins and outs of the Pig Butchering Scam, from what it looks like to how to avoid it.
Wonder why it’s called the Pig Butchering Scam? It’s because these scammers play the long game. First, they gain your trust, then they “lead you to the butcher.” Here’s how it goes down.
After matching on a dating site, they’ll spend one to three months making you comfortable. They’re trained on how to act and have scripts for countless scenarios. So, everything feels real.
Next, they’ll suggest they can help you make a lot of money in cryptocurrency investment. Keep in mind, they won’t ask you directly for any money or your personal information. They might even encourage you to buy crypto from a legitimate exchange.
From there, you’ll be directed to a fake third-party website or app to start investing. The phony sites are top-notch, complete with “customer service.”
You’ll start to see a “profit” and they’ll even let you “withdraw” a small amount of money. This is a trick to further gain your trust. Once you’re feeling confident, the scammer will convince you to invest larger amounts. They’ll use phrases like “act fast” or shame you into feeling like you’re not giving enough.
But when you try to withdraw money again, the scammer or fake customer service representative won’t allow it. You’re told that fees or taxes are owed, or the minimum account balance hasn’t been met. The excuses continue until you realize it’s all a scam. At this point, the scammer vanishes – along with your invested money.
So far, large losses have been the norm. The Global Anti-Scam Organization, a volunteer group led by victims of this scam, found that the average loss was $98,000 and about 70 percent of victims were women, most with a bachelor’s degree.
Want an insider’s look into how it works? Check out this video from a fellow online dater who fell victim to the scam.
So, what does an actor from the Pig Butchering Scam tend to look like? This list won’t match every person involved in the scheme, but here are some general guidelines:
✔️ Realistic profile names with an age range of 28-35 years old
✔️ Fluent in Chinese while also speaking in broken English (They might claim to use a translator)
✔️ Works as a business owner or a field such as finance, medical supplies, or sales
✔️ Studied finance or accounting and invests in crypto, forex, or gold as a hobby
✔️ Shares luxury-type pictures, including cars, jewelry, and handbags
So, this scam is less obvious than ones that ask you for your personal information or money upfront. But there are still some other warning signs that can help you spot a scammer.
They’re everything you’re looking for. The fake profiles show very good-looking men or women, who are also looking for a serious relationship. The conversation will always be flowing. They’ll send good morning and good night texts, selfies, pictures at local landmarks, even shots of their “homecooked dinners.” After a few weeks, they might start using pet names for you or even profess their love. If they get too lovey too quick, throw up a red flag.
Meeting up and video chats aren’t an option. They might use excuses about being too busy to meet in person, usually because of work. Or they’ll say they’re too shy to video chat, and might even pull on your heartstrings by citing a past bad relationship. But if you’ve been talking to someone for weeks and have yet to lay eyes on them, you should be cautious.
They talk a lot about money. Actors in this scam will present themselves as super-wealthy and will talk about spending thousands of dollars like it’s nothing. Reminder: Even if they don’t ask for your private information, any type of talk about your finances with someone you haven’t met is always a red flag.
You’re told about deals that are too good to be true. They’ll convince you that you can have what they have – all you have to do is try out their investment plan. “Trust me,” they’ll say, “My uncle is an expert in crypto and taught me everything they know!” Get rich fast schemes are almost always just that – schemes.
Remember, scammers are opportunists and online daters a prime target for their shady schemes. You download a dating app with dreams of opening up and finding your person – and scammers look to take advantage of that vulnerability.
So if you find yourself a victim of a scam, try not to judge yourself. You did something brave by putting yourself out there. The blame is entirely on the scammer.
Now, check out this article on our Help Desk for steps you can take if you need direction after being scammed.
Dating should never feel scary – at least not for reasons like this. That’s why we’re working overtime to keep our community safe from scammers.
We use AI programs dedicated to sorting out scammers. Plus, we have an Approval Team that reviews new profiles and checks photos and schools for apparent fakes. If someone happens to get through this system and creates a profile, then we rely on savvy daters like you to be another line of defense.
If you think you’ve come across or matched with a scammer, please report them immediately. By reporting a scammer, you’re preventing them from taking advantage of someone else in the future. And don’t worry – reporting is totally anonymous.
Once reported, we investigate, then ban the profile if appropriate. We’ll then alert our Approval Team not to approve anyone with that user’s information or photos moving forward.
We know this is a lot of information to take in. But we want to give you all of the tools you need to protect yourself. That way you can actually enjoy online dating and find what you’re looking for: a real, lasting relationship (not an empty bank account).