A cruel dating scam known as “pig butchering” is among the most convincing cons of 2023 so far, a consumer group warned.
It has been given its name by swindlers who “fatten up” the victim by forming a romantic connection, before carrying out fraud.
Which? said it is part of a “new wave” of sophisticated scams and have urged people to be aware.
In pig butchering, the scammer typically meets the victim on a dating site where they appear to take a great interest in their life, known as “love bombing”.
The fraudster will encourage the victim to move to a private messaging service, removing any protections the platform may give.
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The con artist will then claim they have had success investing – typically in property or cryptocurrency – and offer to invest some of the victim’s money.
If they accept, they may be shown a platform controlled by the scammers and told to put down funds. One person lost £107,000 to pig butchering after believing she was investing in retirement apartments.
Lisa Barber, of Which? said: “It’s appalling that 2023 has seen scammers continuing to thrive, as a new wave of scams bombards consumers. The sad theme of all these is that tech platforms don’t always keep you safe.
“Consumers can help protect themselves by accessing the wide range of free, expert advice on Which?’s website. Responsibility should not fall solely on the shoulders of consumers.
“Tech platforms and the government need to up their game.”