Officials warn of new online dating scam called ‘Pig Butchering’ | #lovescams | #datingapps

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PHILADELPHIA (WJW) — A “love at first swipe” cost a woman nearly $500,000.

Philadelphia resident Shreya Datta explains she was matched with a guy on the dating app Hinge — they bonded and realized they shared a lot in common including investing.

The person she was communicating with recommended she put her cash into Coinbase and change it to cryptocurrency. After a lot of money transfers into what Datta thought was a legitimate site, some of the guy’s fishy behavior caught her attention.

She realized she had been swindled out of a lot of her hard-earned cash and was a victim of a romance scam known as “pig butchering.”

“I thought it was definitely the beginnings of a very deep romantic connection,” Datta explained. “Now, you have to understand that the scammers are very sophisticated. I wasn’t scammed by a person. I was scammed by an organization. So they have the perfect script to psychologically kind of hack you and they have the technology to make it seem very believable.”

“The victims in Pig Butchering schemes are referred to as ‘pigs’ by the scammers because the scammers will use elaborate storylines to ‘fatten up’ victims into believing they are in a romantic or otherwise close personal relationship,” officials said in an affidavit in support of a Los Angeles case. “Once the victim places enough trust in the scammer, the scammer brings the victim into a cryptocurrency investment scheme.”

Scammers attempt to create the appearance of legitimacy by fabricating websites or mobile apps to display a bogus investment portfolio with large returns.

According to the FBI, the highest number of reports came from victims between the ages of 30 and 49.

Datta said her encounter with the scammers lasted three months before she realized it wasn’t legitimate.

“It was not just a deepfake app, they also asked me to make my own account and what I thought was a SoFi crypto trading platform, but it turns out, it was a mirror app. This mirror app made me believe I was actually having an account with SoFi. It had two-factor authentication. The branding look and feel was absolutely real — and it turned out to be not SoFi.”

According to a recent report from the Federal Trade Commission, romance scammers profited greatly in 2022, defrauding nearly 70,000 individuals and accumulating $1.3 billion in illicit gains.

However, experts believe numerous victims choose not to report their losses due to embarrassment.

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