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With the rise of cryptocurrency usage has come a wave of crypto scams, making it important to remain vigilant to prevent yourself from falling victim to any of these scams.

One such scam which is becoming increasingly prevalent is based around a scammer defrauding their victim out of their money via investment in a virtual currency. Pig Butchering, as it is referred to, is known as such because the scammers build a trusted relationship (fattening up) with the victim (pig) typically through social media, tricking them into thinking they are a credible investment partner, going on to steal (butcher) the victim’s assets.

  • In some cases, the victim legitimately purchases virtual currency through a safe exchange, just for the scammer to take over the account and empty it.
  • In other cases, the victim simply makes the transaction with an illegitimate business, losing their money immediately.

In either event, the scammer will often give their victim the run around about where their money is at, and eventually cut off all contact with them once the money is fully in their account, leaving the victim high and dry. With little means of retrieving money if you fall victim in this scam, it is important to be proactive in learning the common tricks to keep an eye out for.

Common red flags to watch for

The pig butchering scam can be very formulaic, with many common approaches that scammers use to try to build trust between themselves and their victim.

  • If you receive a text out of the blue from someone who claims to know you, but is clearly intended for someone else - don’t engage with them, and promptly block the number.
  • Additionally, if you are talking to someone online and they start attempting to get you to invest in a cryptocurrency, ending all contact with this person is the best path forward.

Dating sites are another avenue where these scammers operate. They will match with a potential victim, luring them in with promises of wealth and gifts.

  • Once they’ve built a layer of trust, the scammer will then strike, prompting the victim to either send money outright, or invest in their fraudulent cryptocurrency.
  • As with any online romance, it is important to make sure you truly know the person on the other end of the phone, as it can keep you from falling victim to online scams.

Lastly, be very cautious of anyone telling you to invest in a currency hosted on a specific site or exchange. Some scammers may ask you to invest in a crypto exchange, promising exorbitant returns

  • These scammers may send screenshots or statements detailing their “returns”, but such evidence is easily doctored and is meant to mislead.
  • The sites they point you to may be entirely fraudulent, or could be using unauthorized applications to execute the scam on legitimate websites.
  • Some sites may advertise “minimum investments” that you have to make in order to receive special offers. These offers are false, and are simply a method these scammers use to maximize the money they extract out of their victim.

How you can protect yourself

As with most fraud schemes, there a variety of precautions you can take to protect yourself from falling victim to the pig butchering scam. The primary method being remaining vigilant and cautious in your online communications with people you do not know.

  • For starters, never share your personal information with people you have met online – this is what gets many victims into trouble, and is very easy to avoid with just a moderate level of caution.
  • In the same vein, never send money to someone you have only met online – if you’ve never met someone, there is no reason to trust them with your money.

With any investments you are told about, remember the age-old advice: if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

  • There are no such thing as guaranteed returns, no matter what someone online says to try to convince you otherwise.
  • Likewise, if you don’t fundamentally understand what the investment actually is, or how an exchange that you are told about works, it’s a good idea to just walk away from it altogether.

How Minnwest Bank protects you

As this scam becomes more prevalent, many institutions, including Minnwest Bank, are educating their employees on the common red flags to watch for, along with steps they can take when they do flag suspicious activity.

  • As part of our personal service to our customers, we empower our bankers to decline suspicious wire transfers for your protection. Bankers may work to gather more information about the request, preventing the customer from falling victim to the scammer and potentially resulting in charges being pursued against the scammer(s).
  • Internally, our bankers and fraud specialists work closely together to investigate and help protect the financial interest of customers.

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