Pig butchering scam: 66% of Indians fell victim to romance scam in past year

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New Delhi, Feb 15 (IANS) About two-thirds (66 per cent) of Indians have fallen victim to an online dating or romance scam in the past year, with 81 per cent of them experiencing financial loss, a new report said on Thursday.

The Exposure Management company Tenable has disclosed the intricate workings of the pig butchering scam, revealing how scammers use Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and spot gold investments to defraud unsuspecting victims.

“Pig butchering” is used to describe a type of financial scam that has enabled scammers to steal hundreds of millions of dollars. Pig butchers operate a network of fake accounts across a plethora of social media, messaging and dating applications, such as WhatsApp, Tinder, Telegram, Instagram, and more.

The term “pig” in pig butchering refers to the specific victims targeted by the pig butchers. In this fraud, scammers “fatten up” their victims, either through lengthy romantic chats or by convincing them that they will profit significantly from investment opportunities.

“Pig butchering scams, while operating under the guise of romance and friendship, have proven to be vastly lucrative enterprises for fraudsters, enabling them to steal significant sums of money from victims worldwide,” said Satnam Narang, senior research engineer at Tenable.

Scammers use fake cryptocurrency investments to trick victims into investing large sums of money, only to disappear with the funds, the report mentioned.

The researcher estimated that losses from frauds observed in his firsthand research totalled roughly $13 million, however, he believes this figure to be a conservative estimate.

In India, cases pertaining to cryptocurrency fraud worth $2.4 billion are under investigation.

While the Indian government has not yet implemented any cryptocurrency restrictions, the Union government intends to adopt legislation to regulate cryptocurrencies, the report said.

In February 2024, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) revealed data indicating that US consumers reported losses of $10 billion to scams in 2023, up from $8.8 billion in 2022.

Losses from investment scams have consistently climbed over the last three years, reaching $1.7 billion in 2021, $3.8 billion in 2022, and $4.6 billion in 2023.

The researcher advised against engaging with individuals who boast about successful investments in cryptocurrencies and other financial instruments or who solicit cryptocurrency purchases from legitimate exchanges for dubious purposes.



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