A new initiative has been launched by the United States Secret Service in an effort to raise awareness and prevent people from falling for “pig butchering” scams in the city of Philadelphia.
The new effort is called “Operation Crypto Guard” and will be focused on financial scams in which criminals convince someone to join them in an investment online and then take their money.
The operation will be focused on educating and warning residents against these frauds with tips on how to see the signs.
Agents with the Secret Service will be posting bulletins on Bitcoin ATMs where scammers typically take payments from their victims.
“We urge anyone who is investing in cryptocurrency to be vigilant and cautious, and to report any suspicious activity to the Secret Service or local law enforcement,” Michael Centrella, Special Agent in Charge of the Philadelphia Field Office, said in a statement.
Some tips from the agency to avoid being scammed by a pig butchering scam:
- Do not send money or provide personal or financial information to anyone you do not know or trust.
- Be cautious of anyone who instructs you to lie to your bank or keep the reason for your cryptocurrency purchase a secret.
- Spread awareness of pig butchering scams among your friends and loved ones to protect them from falling victim.
The Secret Service explained that pig butchering scams will typically begin with the criminal pretending to “accidentally meet people via social media or text messages.” They may tell their victim that they were actually trying to connect with someone else and then begin a conversation.
The scammer will try to convince their victim that they are wealthy and that they gained their wealth through these crypto investments.
After connecting with the person over the course of a few weeks, the criminal will try to convince the victim to invest with them and provide advice on how.
“Scammers use cryptocurrency because the transactions are irreversible and hard to trace,” the Secret Service explained.
The criminals use various techniques to get money from their victims. They will suggest that the person join the platform that the criminal is already using or they will even give money to their victim to then guilt them into paying them more.
Officials explained that sometimes the scammers will tell their victims to open accounts on real cryptocurrency platforms before talking them into transferring their money into fraudulent accounts while using the same log-in information.
In other scenarios, the scammers will create fake exchange websites for crypto that look real and will show that the victim is gaining money in their investments. But, it’s all a ruse in order to convince them to add more money.
If you have any information and would like to report a pig butchering scam, please call the Secret Service’s Philadelphia Field Office at 215-861-3300.