The FBI is warning of increasing “pig butchering” in the US, a wave that has seen citizens lose millions of dollars to scammers.
Frank Fisher, a public affairs expert in the bureau’s Albuquerque section, says, “We don’t talk about what’s happening on the farms, but we’re discussing a widespread national cryptocurrency investment scam.”
The phrase “pig butchering” refers to a deceitful victim, or “pig,” who is duped by con artists into parting with money in exchange for an unrealistically high return.
According to Fisher, users should exercise extreme caution if someone you meet through social media or dating applications tries to start an investment connection with you. The agent claims that their creativity and precise timing only constrain the variety of schemes online.
This holiday season, as per the FBI, there has been an increase in fraudulent activities involving retailer Amazon.
For instance, based on a researched Amazon scam, a con artist will call a potential victim and claim that their account has been suspended because a suspicious transaction has been noted. They then instruct the victim to pay immediately using a credit card to close the account.
Fisher also highlighted how scammers occasionally threaten to report victims to the police for purchases. He urges users to avoid being duped by this con.
Additionally, Amazon warns customers that the corporation will never solicit personal information from them and that they should ignore communications asking for account or personal information.
The business has been trying to delete hundreds of online phishing websites and phone numbers connected to identity fraud and has reported possible scammers to law enforcement organizations worldwide.
Dharmesh Mehta, vice president of Selling Partner Services at Amazon, said:
“Scammers who seek to pose as Amazon employees put consumers in danger. Despite these scams happening other than in our store, we will keep funding consumer protection and educating people about scams.”
As per the FBI, seniors are the primary target of other scams increasing throughout this Christmas season. Fisher believes scammers frequently target senior citizens since they are assumed to be more trustworthy and have access to resources.
Victims of the so-called sweepstakes honey trap are approached and informed that they have won a reward. However, the scammers solicit them to send some funds for purposes named “taxes and processing costs,” which are purely astronomical. Fisher claims that legitimate sweepstakes don’t demand payment in advance before releasing funds.
The law enforcement agency advises people to inquire about senior friends and family members’ internet behaviors to see whether they may have been the victims of cybercriminals.
Fisher advises “asking questions” if someone approaches you, saying they want to become friends and build a relationship.
A lawyer’s perspective on crypto scams
According to Santa Clara County, California, District Attorney Jeff Rosen, whose office is in charge of a multi-agency task force battling technology-related crimes, scammers “fatten the hog by tricking the victim into believing they’re investing in something and getting them to move money into crypto.”
As per Rosen, after thieves “fatten” their victims’ digital wallets, they steal the money.
Rosen believes the series of planned steps are the primary method used to clean the pockets of investors.
Everyday, con artists send millions of unsolicited text messages and social media posts to unwitting targets, frequently with a generic message like, “Hello, how are you?”
Working under a false identity, the con artist establishes a rapport with the victim, sometimes taking just a few weeks, before urging them to “invest” in cryptos.
An easy but risky strategy
One strategy the scammers use is to reassure a victim they have earned substantial bitcoin gains, persuading them to “not pass” up the advantages of investing in cryptos.
Those who fall for the con are duped into transferring increasingly enormous sums of money. Fraudsters even send victims fake financial documents showing significant investment returns.
The orchestrated plan is known as “pig fattening,” as per DA Rosen. The DA also stated that scammers typically prey on those feeling lonely during the holidays, making it a mouth-watering time for cyber crimes.
Rosen adds that the actual fraud operations his team has looked into, typically carried out abroad, especially in Cambodia and China, use sophisticated methods even if the initial approach is simple.
To defend oneself from internet predators, experts advise practicing essential awareness and attentiveness.