(PatriotWise.com) — Chinese criminals are using scams to defraud hundreds of millions of dollars from Americans, according to the FBI. Known as “pig butchering” the scams involve persuading people to invest in cryptocurrency with the promise of a high rate of return. The victim then invests and their money is stolen. Frank Fisher of the FBI Albuquerque Field Office said, “We’re not talking about what’s going on at farms. We’re talking about a cryptocurrency investment scam that is sweeping the country.”
The fraudulent trick often begins when scammers build personal relationships with their victims. The relationship can carry on for weeks before any investment opportunities are mentioned. California District Attorney Jeff Rosen, who oversees a task force dealing with technology-based crimes, said people are particularly vulnerable if they are lonely or unaware of the extent of internet-based fraud. He added that people are particularly susceptible around the holidays and that scammers are trained in human psychology so they know how best to approach and manipulate their victims. The term “pig fattening” refers to the time spent building a relationship prior to offering fraudulent investment opportunities.
The FBI has warned people to be wary of relationships that begin on social media or dating sites and to be particularly cautious if finances or investments are discussed.
The scams are believed to have started in China but are thought to have expanded into other Asian countries. They are complex technological frauds that lure people in with the use of apps ostensibly showing returns on investments. The app however is controlled by criminal gangs. Following initial investments, data from the app begins to show growth, thereby encouraging more and more investment. When the criminals have collected enough cash, they disappear.
The FBI warns that other scams are also on the rise and these frequently target the elderly. For example, sweepstakes scams begin when fraudsters contact their victims telling them they have won a cash prize but must first pay a fee for administration and taxes.
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