Home Dating apps Tinder’s New ‘Pig Butcher’ Scam Has Experts Worried

Tinder’s New ‘Pig Butcher’ Scam Has Experts Worried

0

A brutal new scam is starting to appear, and a cybersecurity expert says those responsible are targeting our most personal vulnerabilities.

The aptly named ‘pig butcher’ scam has prompted a warning from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and sees predators developing personal, even romantic, relationships with their victims – a common ploy among scammers.

But the “pig butchers” take the ruse to another level.

According to Satnam Narang, senior research engineer at cyber exposure management firm Tenable, scammers are in the “long con” – meaning they’ll spend weeks on a target.

Crypto
“Pig butchers” trick their victims into investing huge sums in cryptocurrency.
NurPhoto via Getty Images

“I imagine that’s a pretty high number,” he told news.com.au.

Thanks to social media and common dating apps like Tinder, predators will talk to victims up to two weeks before any mention of investing.

“They will try to love each other, to get to know each other. You ask what interests you, he said.

“They slowly trick you into believing that maybe you’re developing a connection with someone.”

And unlike other friendship or romance-based scams that often seek smaller one-time payments, “pig butchers” end up defrauding their victims of huge sums through crypto investments.

“If you also take into account that cryptocurrency is starting to have a lot of success, and Australia, for example, Coinbase has just recently launched there. So there is definitely an appetite for cryptocurrency” , Satnam said.

“They went for a more elaborate approach rather than just nipping at your heels trying to pick you up for a smaller amount. It’s like a lot of money.

How does charcuterie work?

Satnam explained how he himself had been unsuccessfully targeted by pork butchers and described the complex process the scammers use to build trust with their victims.

“I’ve actually been targeted by pork butcher scams on dating apps like Tinder,” he said.

“It’s like romance scams, meets investment plans.

“The goal behind butchering is to convince users to part with their money, and instead of taking you to a traditional cryptocurrency website, they take you to a website that they own.

“[The fake Crypto site] was created and designed to give the impression that you are making a lot of money by investing in this website.

“But in reality, your money was stolen.”

And the name does what it says on the box – the scammers (butchers) “fatten” their victims (pigs) before taking as much money as possible.

“They use things like taxes and other things to take your money out because when you see those staggering numbers on the screen, you make hundreds of thousands of dollars that you want to take out.

“But to do this, there is a catch.

“You have to pay these taxes, you have to pay these fees, and it keeps piling up.”

Satnam said losses of more than $200,000 were not uncommon as a result.

A Perfectly Timed Romance

As the world emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic, people’s desire to connect with each other has also rebounded.

And the butchers are there to cash in.

“It really created the perfect storm for these types of scams,” Satnam said.

“If you think about it, when the pandemic hit people were staying home, we had a lot of people not going out. There were a lot of people working from home

“So there is this very strong desire to connect with another human being.

“It has created a very ripe opportunity for scammers to take advantage of people over the past two years.”

Regarding demographics, Satnam said there was nothing to suggest a specific age or gender was being targeted.

And the messages can be extremely difficult to distinguish from legitimate conversations on dating apps.

“I came across a profile where it was like someone was saying, ‘Hey, I’m trying to set up my friend,'” Satnam explained.

“What’s interesting is that they have their picture as the first picture, and then they have pictures of someone else on their profile.

“Once you message them, they’re like, ‘Hey? I’m actually not single, but my friend is…she lives here in this neighborhood and she’s looking for a really nice guy.

This is when the butchers will try to get their victim off the platform to another messaging platform – presumably, before the dating app deletes the account and the jig is ended.

But even that may not raise red flags.

“Unfortunately, the nature of dating apps [means] you’re not just going to stay on a dating app to communicate,” Satnam explained.

“Eventually you switch to a messaging service like SMS or WhatsApp.”

Pig butchery is a global concern

The seriousness of the scam recently prompted the FBI to issue a warning and an appeal for information.

“Individual losses related to these schemes ranged from tens of thousands to millions of dollars,” the FBI statement said.

An ABC report in mid-September even linked the pig butcher to a Cambodian slave trade operation last month.

He discovered that thousands of young people across Asia had been trafficked to Cambodia and forced to commit online scams.

He discovered that the scam operations had attracted unsuspecting workers from Taiwan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar.

What are the red flags

Satnam said there is almost nothing a victim can do once the scammers have grabbed a victim’s cryptocurrency.

But staying vigilant on dating apps and knowing the tell-tale clues could save new victims from financial ruin.

“If someone on a dating app is trying to get you to invest your money in something, that’s a huge red flag,” he said.

Satnam said if you have any suspicions about financial advice on dating apps, opt out, block and report the accounts immediately.

“When red flags start ringing in your mind or you feel like something is wrong, trust your instincts,” Satnam concluded.