COLORADO, USA — The IRS is warning consumers not to look for love in the wrong places and to be especially wary of online and social media suitors who ask you for money as part of a “pig butchering” scam.
IRS Criminal Investigation described pig butchering schemes as fraudulent online romances where strangers lure unsuspecting romantic partners, known as “pigs,” to invest their money into cryptocurrency trading platforms.
The scams are popping up around the globe, and it has special agents with the IRS Criminal Investigation unit worried.
“Cryptocurrency scammers have become more sophisticated with their schemes,” said IRS CI Chief Jim Lee. “It’s a shame to watch people hopelessly invest their savings in crypto and earn returns on their deposits – to never see the money again. This International Fraud Awareness Week, we don’t want additional victims to get butchered.”
U.S. taxpayers are the people being most targeted by the fake love-for-money scheme, investigators said. The average consumer who is sucked into the scheme can lose hundreds of thousands of dollars. The highest loss known to the IRS is $2 million.
Investigators want consumers to remember that if you meet someone on a dating website or app and they urge you to invest in crypto, it is likely a scam.
The IRS urged consumers to look for red flags in online scams including:
- A stranger or long-lost contact reaches out with a message on social media.
- “Typo-squatting,” where you are urged to send money to an investment platform.
- A romantic interest who asks for money or an investment payment.
- After starting an online relationship, the love interest guarantees profit if you invest with them.
- An online romantic interest messages you in another app like WhatsApp asking for a transfer of funds.
The criminal investigative arm of the IRS conducts financial crime investigations to include tax fraud, narcotics trafficking, money-laundering, public corruption, health-care fraud and identity theft.
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