Online dating scamsare all too common.
Sweet-talking and typing swindlers, wooing unsuspecting, hopeless romantics. Not for love, but lover boys or girls looking to steal your money.
"She put money into my wallet, into this app, and this app is super crazy, where it’s like a shadow. So everything appears to be working, but in the background, they have total control. So, it shows, like you making money," said Kevin Kok, a crypto scam victim.
This Florida man says it cost him serious money.
"Total, I lost around $15,000," said Kok.
But a new romance scam is now among the fastest-growing in the U.S., with the FBI warning Americans.
The scam is known as "pig butchering" and involves scammers luring people into fake crypto investments.
"It's called pig butchering because the fraudster will fatten you out with promises of great returns and even entice you to invest," said Amanda Senn, Director at the Alabama Securities Commission.
Being lured to invest in crypto while promising romantic and long-term companionship.
"And oftentimes it's a small investment initially, and the fraudster will provide you a small return on that investment. And you may do that two or three times before going in for the kill. When he asks for a very significant amount of money," said Senn.
In Alabama, the state's Securities Commission says 88 people collectively lost more than $22 million, falling prey to slick-looking fake websites.
"And so it does lure that victim into, you know, a trusting sort of situation with the fraudster because, hey, they've gotten a return, you know, maybe two or three times," said Senn.
A scheme that cyber security experts say is heavily scripted.
"I think with crypto, where the danger lies is that anybody can create their own crypto coin, or NFT, and offer it for sale, and you can pump and dump these sorts of things quite easily without a lot of oversight or regulation. And that makes it much more difficult to catch, you know, the bad guys that are doing this," said Richard Forno, Assistant Director at the University of Maryland's Baltimore County Center for Cybersecurity.
And the advice is basic but vital: If something sounds too good to be true, it’s probably a scam.
"Treat somebody you encounter online the same way you would treat somebody in person. You know, don't suddenly open up your checkbook or your online accounts to a stranger," said Forno.
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