A recently divorced woman lost her entire 401(k) savings to a scammer she met on Tinder who convinced her to invest in cryptocurrency — the latest “pig butchering” scheme targeting lonely people.
Rebecca Holloway, 42, a mother-of-three, said she was swindled out of $100,000 by a scammer claiming to be a French entrepreneur named “Fred” after the two matched on Tinder in March, the Daily Mail reports.
Holloway told the outlet that Fred urged her to invest in cryptocurrency as they grew closer in the wake of the latest crypto crash fall of Silicon Valley Bank.
The man eventually convinced her to invest all of her retirement funds.
“Single women approaching middle age are so vulnerable,” Holloway said about the incident. “We have money but we might not have met the right guy yet. And suddenly this good-looking man starts talking to you and you’re excited.”
She added: “Looking back, the signs are so obvious. But at the time you want to believe it’s real.”
The scam that hit Holloway is the latest example of “pig butchering,” a term that refers to a months-long scheme to “fatten up” victims with fake romance before “butchering” with fake investment advice.
Holloway said her interactions began with Fred were unlike all the other people she had been matched with on Tinder before.
He sent her consistent and attentive messages.
She added that the two of them also shared a special connection because Fred claimed to be a parent of three children — just like her.
Believing she had a special connection with the man, who barely made himself visible on their video calls, Holloway said she took his word when he advised that she should start investing in cryptocurrencies.
Fred, who pretended to be a foreign entrepreneur living in Philadelphia, advised her to transfer $1,000 into a crypto platform, which allowed her to earn $168.
She said she was then advised to make another investment of $6,000, which again saw her savings spike.
Having faith in the tactic, Holloway went on to invest her entire 401(k).
She said it wasn’t until she started talking to a friend about Fred that she figured out the truth, with her buddy warning her about the recent spike in “pig butchering” scams.
“It felt like a movie where suddenly everything around me blurred and became distorted,” she told the Mail. “I didn’t even try to withdraw my money, I knew at that point it was gone.”
Reports of the scheme Holloway fell for came just a month after Shreya Datta, a 37-year-old tech executive, said she was scammed out of more than $450,000.
According to a report earlier this year from the US Department of Justice, investment fraud caused the highest losses of any 2022 scam reported by the public to the FBI’s Internet Crimes Complaint Center, totaling $3.31 billion.
Vice and the South China Morning Post reported pig-butchering scams are run by criminal groups that operate out of centers in Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia, with the crime syndicates luring in scores of employees with the promise of legitimate jobs.
The workers, however, are then brought into slavery to run the scams, with the callers given “sophisticated scripts” to target their victims.