Beware Of 'Pig Butchering' Online Romance Schemes In NY: Attorney General

New York Attorney General Letitia James urged New Yorkers to be on high alert for increasingly common online romance scams that lead to the victims making fraudulent investments.



Photo Credit: Unsplash/jonasleupe

Also referred to as “pig butchering” schemes, the perpetrators of such crimes will work to gain trust with their victims, “fattening” them up so they willingly provide the scammer money, James said in a Thursday, June 6 press release.

Victims are usually targeted via dating websites and apps, social media, and unsolicited text messages.

They will virtually meet with their victim and move to an encrypted chat platform like WeChat or WhatsApp, which allows the scammer to hide their identity from law enforcement.

James continued that the fraudsters typically spend a substantial amount of time convincing their victim that they’re in a romantic or otherwise close personal relationship – and once the victim is comfortable in the relationship, the scammer will strike, bringing up trading and investment opportunities and even sending pictures of their supposedly luxurious life to prove they're successful at investing.

She warned that the phony investment opportunities usually involve cryptocurrency or foreign currencies. The scammer may even provide a link to a legitimate-looking website where victims can see their purported investments.

After the victim has deposited a considerable amount of money (James said the amount stolen from victims ranges from tens of thousands to over a million dollars), the scammer will suddenly cut contact.

“New Yorkers hoping to find romance and personal connections online are instead being taken advantage of and victimized by heartless scammers,” said James.

“The personal and sometimes romantic nature of these scams can often leave their victims feeling ashamed and isolated.”

Her office recommended a number of steps New Yorkers should take to avoid becoming a victim.

For example, James encourages citizens not to send money to anyone they do not know and to search a person’s profile picture or name to confirm that they are, in fact, a real person and not using an AI-generated image. Scammers may also promise to meet up but never show or change their phone number multiple times throughout their scheme.

“New Yorkers who fall victim to these frauds should know they are not alone,” James continued.

She urges anyone who is a victim of one of these scams to report it to the Office of the Attorney General using this online form or by calling 1-800-771-7755

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