How Indian Techie in US was Duped into Crypto Fraud on Hinge; What is Pig Butchering Scam? How to Avoid – News18

Curated By: Shilpy Bisht
Last Updated: February 26, 2024, 13:31 IST
New Delhi, India
One can avoid the scam by not responding to unknown number or messages on social media, by cross-checking the URLs or the website before investing in crypto, and doing a research.(Representative Image)
The Indian-American woman, who lost her savings of millions of dollars, is a victim of the ‘pig butchering scam’ that involves online romance, fake crypto returns and human trafficking.
Shreya Datta, 37, a Philadelphia-based software professional, was ensnared in a cryptocurrency romance fraud, in which she lost nearly Rs 4 crore or $450,000, that left her in a significant debt.
According to news agency AFP, Datta began dating a French wine trader, Ancel, on a dating app called Hinge. They quickly moved to WhatsApp, with Ancel strategically removing his Hinge profile to trap Datta into his illusion of love.
Ancel used Datta’s divorce to exploit her by luring her into a lucrative cryptocurrency-funded retirement plan. She began investing her savings into a seemingly legitimate crypto trading app.
Suspicion arose only after the app requested a personal “tax” upon withdrawals. Datta’s London-based brother uncovered Ancel’s true identity as a German fitness influencer.
The FBI reported more than 40,000 victims losing a cryptocurrency fraud of $3.5 billion, which could be higher considering some victims underreporting the figure due to shame.
The ‘pig butchering scam’ made headlines in 2022 when a man lost $1 million after making an initial contact with the scammer who pretended to be an old colleague on WhatsApp.
The scam originated in Southeast Asia, and its name comes from the Chinese phrase “Shāz Hū Pán”, which means ‘pig butchering’. The cryptocurrency scammers search dating and social media sites for victims.
The analogy comes from the fact that the victim is lured – fattening up the pig – and then stealing money – butchering.
The scam could start as a text from a wrong number or a direct message on social media. The scammer may even pose as a long-lost contact to the victim.
The scammers make fake profiles usually on WhatsApp and dating apps such as Tinder and then pretend to gain the trust of the victim through false affection, love and care, and persuades them into providing funds for fictitious investment and employment opportunities.
The scammer guarantees the victim that they will make money either through insider tip or some investor knowledge. Then, the scammer tells the victim to download an app or visit a website to make cryptocurrency trades.
The scammer will initially ask the victim to withdraw some of the “profits” to gain more trust. The victim is encouraged to add more money. If the victim wants to withdraw more money later, the app asks them to pay some fee or taxes, that’s when the victim realises that the platform is fake, and the transactions appear on blockchain, never to be seen again.
The money is transferred overseas to transnational criminal organisations in Myanmar and Cambodia using trafficked victims as slaves to carry out the scam online, according to a report by Forbes.
Wrong Numbers: The scammers pretend to reach out to someone else in order to start a conversation. Don’t respond to unsolicited text no matter what the scammer says. Block and report the number and social media profile.
Cryptocurrency Guarantee: Fraudsters take time in building trust of the victim before luring them into investing in the cryptocurrency. Beware of investment giving higher profits, don’t get involved with a website promoted by an online contact.
Trading: The scammer will ask the victim to trade with them by downloading a cryptocurrency app and investing small time. The scammer will then ask the victim to trade together.
Extravagant Gifts: The victims will be tempted with big promises that include gifts, expensive vacations.
• Do not reply to unknown numbers on WhatsApp, social media or dating apps.
• Before investing your money, including crypto, cross-check the URLs or the official website, watch out for misspelt URLs and research on investments.
• Check the legitimacy of the app before downloading. Google, Apple app stores too have reported about pig butchering scam apps.
• Never share personal finance information on promise of a job or high returns.
• Avoid making hasty decisions based on emotions.
• Seek help of legal experts and authorities in reporting the crime.


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