FTC Warns Consumers of Rising Crypto Romance Scams

June 11, 2024 BACK TO NEWS

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued a warning to consumers regarding the alarming increase in "pig butchering" scams, also known as romance scams involving cryptocurrency investments. These scams, originating from Southeast Asia and gaining traction globally, have led to significant financial losses for victims.

"Pig butchering" scams, derived from the Chinese phrase Shāz Hū Pán, typically involve scammers targeting individuals through dating and social media platforms. After establishing an emotional connection with their victims, the scammers proceed to deceive them into investing in cryptocurrency or sending money, only to disappear with the funds.

According to the FTC, romance scams have resulted in millions of dollars in losses over the years. Scammers often pose as experts in cryptocurrency investing, exploiting victims' trust and manipulating them into sending money or cryptocurrency.

To expedite the process, scammers often pressure victims to transfer funds through gift cards, payment apps like Apple Pay, CashApp, PayPal, Zelle, or even cryptocurrency. However, it's essential to note that legitimate entities rarely insist on these forms of payment.

The prevalence of crypto romance scams has become increasingly apparent, with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) recently warning Canadian citizens about the surge in such scams. These scams, which include both pig butchering schemes and investment scams, have targeted unsuspecting victims, resulting in substantial financial losses.

One victim, Shreya Datta, shared her harrowing experience of falling victim to a cryptocurrency romance scam, suffering financial devastation with losses totaling $450,000. The severity of these scams is underscored by TRM Labs' revelation that the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has received over 4,300 complaints related to pig butchering scams, with losses exceeding $400 million.

In response to the growing threat, raising awareness about pig butchering scams is crucial. Educating individuals about the tactics employed by scammers can help prevent further financial harm. As part of this effort, the FTC emphasizes the importance of skepticism and caution when engaging with strangers online.

To shed light on the issue, John Oliver recently discussed the prevalence of internet scams and the ease with which individuals can fall victim to them. By spreading awareness and promoting vigilance, consumers can protect themselves from falling prey to crypto romance scams and safeguard their financial well-being.