The latest ‘pig-butchering’ scam targeting Australian romantics

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A recent ‘pig-butchering’ scam has seen fraudsters match with Australians on dating apps, and develop close, romantic relationships with them before leaving them heartbroken, vulnerable, and devoid of all their savings. Cybersecurity expert Adrianus Warmenhoven, who coined the term, explains in the Canberra Times, “the scammer gains the trust of the pig (the victim), fattens it up, (lures them into a scam), and leaves with the victim’s money (butchering the pig)."

Mr. Warmenhoven explains just how effective this scam is. “It's the only scam I know of at the moment that sees scammers try to make an emotional connection with their victim”, he says. These scammers often try to zero-in on dating profiles that have mentions of family life or values, as they know these people are genuine and trusting. 

Online scammers will not only try their luck on dating sites like Tinder but will also cold contact people on social networking sites like Facebook. The scammer will build an emotional connection with the victim, utilising love-bombing tactics like instant declarations of love and constant compliments.

Once they've built up enough trust, they'll encourage their victims to invest in fraudulent cryptocurrency platforms. The main goal of this scam is to build a facade of trust and love before taking you for all you’re worth. Most of these scammers are patient in waiting for their payout, meaning it can go on for weeks, or even months. 

Mr. Warmenhoven details some red flags people should look out for to make sure they don’t fall victim to a pig-butchering scam.

  • Moving too fast. They might shower victims with compliments or promises of a future to show their ‘love’ is genuine, but this quickly fades away. 
  • Steering the conversation towards wealth or crypto farms. They might boast about their expensive cars, many overseas trips, and how wealthy they are – thanks to a cryptocurrency app no one’s ever heard of. They’ll use this as a segue to prompt you to invest in these platforms. Little by little, you might see some returns on your investment. They’ll encourage you to invest more and more, and once you decide to stop or you second guess your decision, they claim you need to pay huge fees to get your money back. 

Keep yourself and your money safe

ACCC Scamwatch has reported that Australians have lost over $3 million from romantic scams alone. Women account for most losses, comprising 73% of all romantic scam victims. To ensure you don’t fall victim to romantic scammers, we’d recommend the following steps.

  • Trust your gut. If something seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t. Use your common sense – if you’re having doubts about someone’s identity, it's best to stop communicating. 
  • Beware of no or minimal pictures. Modern dating apps are great because they allow us to show prospective partners the best version of ourselves. Be wary of people that have no photos or one or two blurry images, as they probably aren't who they’re making themselves out to be. Always be sure of the identity of the person you’re talking to.
  • Keep your wits about you. Have some common sense. Don’t give away your bank details or personal information to somebody you just met on the Internet. If someone you’ve never met and don’t know the true identity of starts asking for large sums of money, they’re probably a scammer.
Hannah Geremia
Written by
Hannah Geremia
Hannah has had over six years of experience in researching, writing, and editing quality content. She loves gaming, dancing, and animals, and can usually be found under a weighted blanket with a cup of coffee and a book.

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