A new scam called "pig butchering" is becoming a major problem across New York.

One of the hardest things to find for thousands of New Yorkers is something many take for granted! Love is something many of us have spent years trying to find and in today's world searching for love can often lead to scammers taking advantage of those seeking romance.

Scams in New York

Online Romance Scams Rise in New York

Thousands of New Yorkers search online every day for love and because love seekers are so eager many have fallen victim to online scammers in one way or another. Online romance scams are one of the more common scams that New Yorkers fall for and because of that New York Attorney General Letitia James has issued a consumer alert warning to all New Yorkers about online scams. Often scammers use dating apps, social media, and unsolicited text messages to befriend their victims and then convince them to make fraudulent investments.

Pig Butchering Scam

Pig Butchering Scam

A common scam known as "pig butchering" usually involves a scammer "fattening up" victims by gaining their trust before finally taking their money according to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG). Pig butchering schemes usually start on dating apps and after the victim and scammer agree to meet virtually, the conversation generally transitions over to an encrypted chat platform such as WhatsApp or WeChat that can shield the scammer’s identity from law enforcement.

"Sophisticated fraudsters are increasingly using dating apps and social media to trick users into bogus investment schemes. The personal and sometimes romantic nature of these scams can often leave their victims feeling ashamed and isolated. New Yorkers who fall victim to these frauds should know they are not alone. I encourage anyone who believes they may have been a victim of an online romance scam to contact my office."


Long Term Scam

Scams like this are possible only after the scammers spend a lot of time making victims believe that they are in a romantic or otherwise close personal relationship. Once that connection is made the scammer shifts the conversation to trading or investment opportunities and begins to show the victim how successful they are at investing. Once the scammer convinces the victim of how successful they are they will ask them to join them in an investment opportunity, often in cryptocurrency or foreign currencies.


Steps to Avoid Being Scammed in New York

James recommends that New Yorkers take basic steps to avoid becoming the victim of a romance scam by, never wiring money to someone you haven't vetted and always research the person's photo and profile using online searches to see if the image, name, or details have been used elsewhere. James also warned folks to be suspicious of individuals they encounter online who:

  • Change their phone number throughout the “relationship” and/or tell you to delete the conversations.
  • Promise to meet in person or by video call, but always come up with an excuse about why they cannot.
  • Move conversations from text or email to WhatsApp or another encrypted platform.
  • Attempt to isolate you from friends or family by advising you to keep the relationship or the investment opportunity they are offering a secret.
  • Ask you for detailed personal financial information or explicit or private photographs, which could later be used to extort you.
  • Pressure you to withdraw from retirement accounts (even at a penalty), to borrow money from friends/relatives, or to apply for loans from a bank.

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James ended her press release by saying that all New Yorkers should trust their instincts and think twice before investing. "If it seems too good to be true, it probably is."

If you or someone you know have been a victim of this type of scam, please report it by filing a complaint online here or calling 1-800-771-7755.

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