Finance

Mum Loses $100K from Tinder Pig Butchering Scam

A single mum-of-three thought she was connecting to a French businessman named ‘Fred’ on Tinder. Turns out, he was scamming her all along. Rebecca Holloway, 42, was swindled out of more than $100,000 in what is being called a “pig butchering” scam.

”Pig butchering” is a dating scam where victims are effectively ‘fattened up’ with a fake romantic relationship before being ‘butchered’ by fraudulent investment advice.

‘You want to believe it’s real’

Rebecca, a freelance marketing executive in America, matched with ‘Fred’ in March. They immediately clicked and Rebecca admits she was drawn to his consistent and attentive messages and the fact that he claimed to have a daughter as Rebecca has three teenage children herself.

Rebecca opened up about what happened to her as a way to warn other women about this type of scam.

Single women approaching middle-age are so vulnerable,” she told The Daily Mail.

‘We have money but we might not have met the right guy yet. And suddenly this good-looking man starts talking to you and you’re excited. 

‘Looking back, the signs are so obvious. But at the time you want to believe it’s real.”

The pair continued to message and ‘Fred’ eventually brought up his cryptocurrency investments. Rebecca knew a bit about cryptocurrency and, at the time, Bitcoin was all over the news as the ‘next big thing.

crypto scams - pig butchering scam on tinder
Source: Bigstock

Rebecca transferred $1,000 to what she believed was a real cryptocurrency platform. At first, she saw a $168 investment on four ‘trades’.

$100,000 lost 

Meanwhile, Rebecca and Fred’s relationship continued to blossom via text and video chat where he would call her while he was making dinner. During these chats, he was mostly off-camera and she struggled to get a proper look at his face.

Rebecca was able to easily transfer her $168 profit back to her savings account so she decided to trade again – this time with $6,000. She continued to see a profit so she invested $100,000, with ‘Fred’ encouraging her the entire time.

Rebecca later met with a girlfriend to dish about her new relationship with ‘Fred’ and her friend told her about pig butchering scams.

That’s when I realised what had happened,” she said.

“It felt like a movie where suddenly everything around me blurred and became distorted. I didn’t even try to withdraw my money, I knew at that point it was gone.”

Looking back, Rebecca realised there were red flags, but when you think you’re in a happy relationship, it’s easy to bypass them. ‘Fred’s French accent seemed to disappear sometimes and his moods changed often.

While Rebecca has now reported her case to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, she has no idea if she will ever see her money again.

Crypto scams happening more often than we think

It’s not just Rebecca who has had this happen to her. Single mum, Kate, also from America, experienced an eerily similar ‘relationship’ via Tinder. Like Rebecca, Kate’s man, named ‘Andy’, was a French entrepreneur. He convinced her to invest $80,000.

“I was the perfect sucker in a way because I knew nothing about cryptocurrencies,” she told The Daily Mail.

Shreya, also from America, was conned out of nearly half a million dollars – $450,000 in the same way. Her man was a ‘French wine trader’ and admits she was an easy target.

“I was in a trance. It’s like my psychology was hacked,” she said.

Be aware of pig butchering

It’s so easy to read stories like this and think “This could never happen to me” but it happens more often than we think.

Dating and romance scams accounted for $35 million in losses in Australia last year and pig butchering is responsible for $850,000 of losses, according to Cybercrime expert Simon Smith.

Pig Butchering takes time and effort as it requires the scammer to build up the trust of someone. Often this takes months and months.

Many pig butchering operations are reportedly run by criminal syndicates in Cambodia which employ thousands of people.

The platforms used for the crypto scams look very similar to legitimate sites but with slightly different URLs. Another thing is that, at first, it’s quite easy to transfer your profits to your bank account but as you invest more, this option is taken away.

They are very elaborate and relentless, the scammers keep going until they have taken their victim’s last cent, and then some,” expert Simon Smith said.

While there is absolutely nothing wrong with online dating or with cryptocurrency, it is important to be aware of pig butchering and take the necessary precautions.

Always get a second opinion before investing in cryptocurrency and don’t invest in foreign exchange crypto with people you’ve only met online.

When it comes to the dating side of things, meet in person. Face to face. Somewhere in public. And if something feels off, it probably is.

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Avatar of Jenna Galley

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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