How a bank worker looking for love was conned of her life savings in Tinder scam known as ‘pig butchering’ | #DatingScams | #LoveScams | #RomanceScans

By Padraig Collins For Daily Mail Australia

05:37 14 Sep 2023, updated 01:07 17 Sep 2023

An Australian woman has been robbed of her life savings after being caught up in an online romance/cryptocurrency scam that began on the Tinder dating app. 

The cruel scam, known as ‘pig butchering’, involves victims being ‘fattened up’ with a fake relationship before being ‘butchered’ by fraudulent investment advice.

Sydney bank worker Sarah (not her real name) thought she had met a great man, John, on Tinder, and quickly fell in love. 

Two weeks later, she realised it was all a hoax and she was the victim – but not before losing $157,000, which was her entire life savings and $40,000 she borrowed from a friend. 

‘It’s been humiliation heaped upon humiliation,’ Sarah, 42, told 9News. ‘I realise how idiotic I am now. I’m still trying to reconcile that I’ve actually done this to myself.’

An Australian woman has been robbed of her life savings after being caught up in an online romance/cryptocurrency scam that began on the Tinder dating app. ‘John’ used a picture he found on the web of a man with a husky dog and passed it off as himself

The pig butchering financial crime started in China but has since spread across the world and is becoming increasingly prevalent in Australia. 

Cybercrime expert Simon Smith confirmed there have been many local victims, with some losing up to $850,000.

READ MORE: Marketing executive lost $100,000 to man she met on Tinder in ‘pig butchering’ scam

A recently divorced mum-of-three has revealed how she lost her more than $100,000 to a scammer she met on Tinder after he convinced her to invest in bogus cryptocurrency schemes.

‘They are very elaborate and relentless, the scammers keep going until they have taken their victim’s last cent, and then some,’ he said. 

In August, Sarah was matched with a man calling himself John on Tinder, where he had a ‘verified’ profile. 

He said he lived 16kilometres from her in Sydney’s inner west and posted photos of him with a husky dog. 

She liked that he seemed to be an animal lover and thought he was ‘hot’.

‘And we got along so well, it was amazing. I’ve got to say it was unbelievable, which I guess is the point of how they make it.’

After just a day of chatting on Tinder, John moved their chat to the WhatsApp messaging service, where he appeared to have an Australian phone number.

He told Sarah he had closed his Tinder profile to concentrate on her, which she found ‘flattering’.

John very quickly mentioned that he traded in cryptocurrency as a side hustle  to his construction work and said he could help her make some money that way too.

He got her to set up an account with an Australian cryptocurrency exchange called CoinSpot and then introduced her to the MEXC cryptocurrency platform.

While MEXC is real, he had sent her to a fake MEXC website – which was so well set up, Sarah thought she was seeing the deals go through and profit accumulating in her account. 

John showed her how she could put in a small amount of money at first and withdraw it immediately if she wanted.

‘After that, I just transferred everything – I was adding $10,000, $20,000. I kept putting more in,’ Sarah said.

The scam site even had a ‘customer service’ department, which she talked to and which furthered the swindle by giving her a deposit address. 

The man she thought she loved made it appear as if he was putting extra funds into her account to help increase her profits.

But things began to unravel very quickly when he told her to take her money out as the  ‘good trading period was over’.

Sarah was told she had to pay a ‘security deposit’ of $40,000 to take the money out.

She paid it, but was then told she had to pay double that amount again – money she didn’t have. 

John claimed to have paid some of the money and she borrowed $40,000 from a friend to make up the difference, which is her biggest regret. 

When the money still wasn’t transferred, she asked John what was happening, but he just told her to contact the customer service department. 

She tried to get a personal loan after the criminals asked for more money, but that didn’t happen. ‘I was unsuccessful, thank God,’ she said. 

Sarah confided in her best friend about what was happening and she and her husband made her realise she was the victim of a financial crime. 

They then found that John’s WhatsApp number had been disconnected, and she found the man with the husky photo was just taken from the internet. 

‘I literally looked up ‘guy with husky’ and his was the very first picture that came up,’ she said. 

A Tinder spokesperson said the company was ‘saddened to hear of anyone who has fallen victim to a romance scam when seeking a real connection. 

‘We have a zero tolerance policy for this type of behaviour and are constantly investing in ways to keep users safe while they’re using Tinder – including a robust suite of safety features and in-app safety education, fraud detection technology and working directly with law enforcement when needed.’

The spokesperson said Tinder strongly encourages users to report any suspicious behaviour to it directly so it can ‘identify, stop, and remove these criminals. 

‘We can confirm that this profile was reported to us and has been banned from Tinder.’

Australians have lost almost $24million to romance scams already this year, with 74 per cent of that money being lost by women. A woman looking at the Tinder app on her phone is pictured

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s ScamWatch site said almost $24million has been lost to romance scams already this year, with 74 per cent of that money being lost by women. 

Sarah has not been happy with the Australian authorities response to what happened to her. 

‘It’s quite clear that they’ve got no bloody idea what to do,’ she said. ‘If someone broke into my house and stole everything that would be a different story.

‘I’m the kind of person who’s never done anything wrong in their life. I’m a rule follower and I’ve done this one thing and it’s ruined everything.’

Pig butchering in Australia and how to avoid it

Australians lost more than $322 million in investment scams last year

Dating and romance scams accounted for $35 million in losses

Here are tips to avoid becoming a victim of this cruel hoax:

 – Don’t invest in foreign exchange, cryptocurrency or speculative investments with people you’ve only ever encountered in the online environment

– Be particularly wary of crypto, which has always been associated with scams and criminal activity 

– If you are unsure, get a second opinion from a professional, in-person

– Talk to friends and family to get an outside perspective. Confiding in someone could help prevent or minimise losses

– If something doesn’t sound normal then it could be a scam. For instance being asked to pay your through crypto or with gift cards

– When it comes to relationships, understand that you really don’t know anyone at all until you physically meet them

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