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How can I protect myself from financial scams?
How can I protect myself from financial scams?

Understand how to identify potential financial scams, or ‘pig butchering’.

Updated over a week ago

⚠️ Caution: Cryptocurrency scams are on the rise.

A popular kind of financial scam called pig butchering is on the rise, combining elements of romance scams, investment schemes, and cryptocurrency fraud to gain someone’s trust before stealing their money.

Scammers will lure victims into digital relationships, typically through love-bombing, before convincing them to invest in their cryptocurrency platforms.

How does pig butchering work?

  1. The scammer initiates contact with a target online, and once they find a suitable target (the“pig”), they stay in constant contact to develop a relationship.

  2. After earning their trust, the scammer encourages the victim to start cryptocurrency trading, and will usually claim to have insider knowledge or special connections in the investment industry (and boast large returns).

  3. The scammer encourages the victim to download an app, and may even offer to trade together, to demonstrate how easy it is to get large returns. Unfortunately, it’s just a fraud platform controlled by scammers.

  4. Once victims join the platform, the scammer simulates trades to make it look like they’re actually earning profits. The scammer may even encourage victims to withdraw some of their “gains” to get their confidence up.

  5. Convinced that everything is legitimate, victims start to invest larger and larger sums of money. Over time, the scammer continues to manipulate victims (and the platform) to keep them investing (this is the part known as “fattening the pig”).

  6. When victims try to withdraw their money, the platform will claim there’s an account issue, or that they need to pay large fees and taxes to do so.

  7. Eventually, the victim realizes the truth, and the scammer (and platform) completely disappear. Since all transactions happen on the blockchain, recovering their funds is almost impossible.

Before investing in any new cryptocurrency platforms or taking trading advice from a new connection, know the red flags of romance scams so you can protect yourself.

Red Flag #1: A new online connection starts talking about crypto

What to look out for

  • A new connection claims to have insider knowledge about profitable cryptocurrency investment opportunities, e.g. “I work at [Bank]. I also partnered with a friend to start an AI big data analytics studio that specializes in analyzing market trends in the cryptocurrency and forex markets using AI big data.”

  • The connection directs you to specific apps or platforms and tells you to buy and transfer cryptocurrency.

  • The connection claims they need your assistance to secure a "mining certificate," or they talk about a niche crypto field known as "liquidity mining."

What to do

Beware of any new connection attempting to get you to invest in cryptocurrency. Never share any personal information and report their profile to us immediately.

Red Flag #2: A new online connection starts love bombing you

What to look out for

  • Your new connection moves quickly, and tries to lure you with expensive gifts or trips together.

  • Your new connection gets very personal and forward early on, sharing intimate details about their lives and expressing their love for you.

  • Your new connection is constantly available to chat via messages, morning or night.

What to do

When making connections online, you should always take things slowly until you really know the person before taking things further. If you have suspicions, it’s likely best to end contact, block the profile, and move on.

Red Flag #3: You’re told to download a “special” crypto trading/investment app

What to look out for

  • A new connection tells you to download a trading or investment app.

  • A new connection tries to convince you to download the app by claiming they’ve made a lot of money or that they have a source with “insider” knowledge who uses it.

  • A new connection offers to run simulations on the app to show you how it works.

What to do

Remember that any website or app can be manipulated. Never join an investment platform suggested by someone whom you’ve only met online. We recommend researching all apps and investment accounts before investing anything. Great resources include:

  • Reddit

  • Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker

  • FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center

Do you think you’re being targeted by a scammer?

If you think you’re being targeted by a scammer, we recommend protecting yourself immediately by:

  • Breaking off all contact: Immediately end all communications across text, social media, apps, and email.

  • Blocking and reporting their account

  • Filing a police report: Inform local law enforcement with full details of the fraud, and ask them to contact the crypto exchange.

  • Monitoring your online and financial accounts for signs of fraud: Keep a close eye on all your credit reports, bank accounts, and credit card statements to identify any unfamiliar transactions.

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