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Tech Executive Loses $450K in Heartbreaking ‘Pig-Butchering’ Dating Scam

Victims are referred to as 'pigs' because scammers use elaborate storylines to deceive them into believing in a romantic relationship.
UPDATED AUG 24, 2023
Cover Image Source: Pexels/Tim Samuel
Cover Image Source: Pexels/Tim Samuel

In the digital age, online dating has become a popular way for people to connect and seek potential partners. However, this convenience and accessibility have also opened doors to various scams, leaving some victims in dire financial situations. One such victim is Shreya Datta, a 37-year-old tech executive who fell prey to a cunning scammer on the dating app Hinge, losing a staggering $450,000, reports Yahoo.

Pexels | Anna Tarazevich
Image Source: Anna Tarazevich/Pexels

Shreya Datta's journey began like many others, swiping through dating apps in search of a genuine connection. That's when she encountered 'Ancel Mali,' a charming wine trader from France, or so he claimed. Their conversations soon moved to WhatsApp and Mali swiftly deleted his Hinge profile to focus solely on building a connection with Datta. The online conversations were filled with flirtatious emojis and selfies, leading Datta to believe that she had found her soulmate.

As the months passed, the relationship between Datta and Mali grew closer, and the latter seized the opportunity to deceive her. Mali convinced Datta to venture into cryptocurrency trading, providing her with a seemingly legitimate app called SoFi. This app, known for offering loans and select banking services in the U.S. and Hong Kong, has been targeted by scammers due to its reputation.

Image Source: Pexels/Budgeron Bach
Image Source: Budgeron Bach/Pexels

When Datta attempted to withdraw her funds from the crypto trading app, she was asked to pay a 10% personal tax before the withdrawal could be processed. Sensing something was amiss, Datta sought help from her lawyer brother, who enlisted the aid of a private investigator. Together, they uncovered the truth—Datta had become a victim of the 'pig butchering' scam.

Image Source: istockphoto/Jerome Maurice
Image Source: Jerome Maurice/istockphoto

The Department of Justice (DOJ) revealed in April 2023  that they had seized around $112 million associated with pig-butchering scams. Victims of these schemes are referred to as "pigs" because scammers use elaborate storylines to deceive them into believing in a romantic or close personal relationship. Once the trust is gained, the scammers lure their victims into investing in fake cryptocurrency platforms, redirecting their money to their accounts.

Although Shreya Datta was fortunate to have a supportive family and a high-paying job, the financial and emotional impact of the scam was significant. She had to sell her car and find a more affordable apartment to cope with the loss. Many victims of romance scams are not as fortunate and are burdened with debt and devoid of savings. In another crypto scam case, a 74-year-old man, Lantsman was lured into investing his entire life savings, totaling over $340,000 by SpireBit, a fraudulent company presenting itself as a cryptocurrency investment trading platform. He ended up losing all the money. 

Image Source: Pexels/
cottonbro studio
Image Source: cottonbro studio/Pexels

To prevent falling victim to similar scams, individuals should take certain precautions:

Conduct thorough research: Before getting deeply involved with someone online, verify their identity through social media profiles, LinkedIn, or other online platforms.

Be cautious of 'love bombing': Beware of suitors who manipulate emotions and declare strong feelings too early in the relationship as this is a typical red flag in romance scams.

Insist on video communication: Requesting video chats can help confirm the legitimacy of the person and deter scammers who avoid meeting in person.

Safeguard personal information: Avoid discussing finances or sharing confidential details too early in the relationship, as this can be a significant warning sign. Never provide personal information that could make you vulnerable to identity theft.

Remain watchful of get-rich-quick schemes: Exercise caution when encountering individuals promoting trading apps that guarantee substantial profits or share stories of high returns. Refrain from clicking on any download links they may send, even if they appear legitimate.