Lonely hearts in Silicon Valley have reportedly fallen victim to a wave of “pig-slaughtering” crypto scams via dating apps.
An investigator for cybersecurity firm Sift found that one in 20 people who approached her on dating apps in San Francisco was working on the scam.
Pig slaughter, or slaughter, is a form of scam in which a person / group puts weeks or months of work into building a false relationship with the victim, and metaphorically fattens them. The ultimate goal is to get the victim to invest in crypto via either a duplicate version of a legitimate website or by transferring money to a risky wallet address.
The scammers often move the conversations from dating apps or social media to encrypted messaging services such as WhatsApp and initiate countless hours of daily conversations to make their fake personas seem realistic without actually meeting in person in most cases.
A report by the San Francisco Examiner on June 2 detailed the accounts of two relatively tech-savvy individuals, referred to as Cy and R for anonymity purposes, who together lost $ 2.5 million on the scam. Both are now members of an online support group that hosts the Global Anti Scam Organization, which sees “at least two or three new members” each week.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reports that such cases are part of an “increasing trend” in the local area.
The FBI issued a general warning about crypto-romantic scams and pig slaughter in April, noting that its Internet Crime Complaint Center received more than 4,300 complaints by 2021, resulting in more than $ 429 million in losses. It stated that the scam first appeared in China in late 2019, but has since become more widespread in the United States
R’s case in particular is notable, as she’s a Bay Area IT manager who lost about $ 1.3 million on the scam after first being contacted via LinkedIn.
Despite being well versed in computer technology, R stated that the professional profile of the scammer managed to win her trust by being listed as an alumni of the same top-tech university from which she graduated in China.
After the conversation moved over to WhatsApp, the scammer worked for a month before finally persuading R to invest in crypto via a questionable website that threw her money.
“I never thought it could happen to me because I use technology. I wrote software.”
Cy, a real estate analyst, lost $ 1.2 million over two months and ended up in psychiatric treatment after having suicidal thoughts.
Related: “Yikes!” Elon Musk warns users against latest deepfake crypto scams
“I lost more than just money. I lost my confidence,” Cy said. “I have ruined my family’s life.”
The Global Anti-Scam Organization believes that Silicon Valley workers are increasingly falling victim to these scams due to excessive reliance on tech savvy, loneliness due to the pandemic, and an interest in gaining crypto exposure.