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Stay Away from Romantic Scams Online

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Whether in China or other countries, there is such a scam: scammers use dating, dating, or other dating software as a tool to search for scam targets on the Internet; establish friendship in the name of love, and then ask them to make investment at designated platforms based on their relationship. Then, the funds are taken away by using excuses such as trading loss or failure to withdraw. This type of scams are called “pig-killing” in China, and “romance scam” in some other countries.

Case 1:

A British man met a woman on Whatsapp. The woman claimed to be a businesswoman. After they became friends, they started chatting regularly. The man felt that the woman was kind, gentle and interesting, and their relationship was built.
Soon, the woman stated that she was still doing investment, and offered to take the man to trade with her, and taught him to download Auu Global. The woman also said that "if you don't learn to trade with me, we won't have any common topics to talk about in the future." In order to maintain the relationship between the two, the man started trading on Auu Global.
Of course, the man only invested $30 at the beginning, but the woman asked the man to deposit at least $1,000 again otherwise the funds were too small to obtain income. A few days later, when the man wanted to withdraw the trading funds, the woman told him that his trading account could only withdraw US$10 a month, otherwise the account might be frozen. The man realized that he had been cheated.

Case 2:

This is a "pig-killing" scam in China. October 2020, Ms. Ma from Shanghai met Mr. Li on a dating website. After a period, the two developed a romantic relationship.
Soon after, Mr. Li invited Ms. Ma to join an investment QQ group, and highly recommended Ms. Ma to download the "Haifu (海富)" app, an app for investment, saying that the return on stock trading was very high.
Ms. Ma trusted her boyfriend, and started investing in Haifu. She had successively invested 7 million yuan (approximately US$1.09 million) into this trading platform. During the period, it was profitable at the beginning, and then it started to lose money. Finally, all were lost. Then, her boyfriend Mr. Li lost contact. Ms. Ma inquired about the platform, and found out that it was a fake platform without regulation.
Step 1: A fake identity
When making friends online, many people have certain precautions and will not become friends casually. So scammers make themselves look like a successful elite aged from 28 to 35, with made-up stories, family and past relationship, as well as good-looking profile pictures, so their identity look real and trustworthy.
Step 2: Find the target
A pig-killing scam takes longer time. So, they are not randomly targeting but usually go for who are 30+ and somewhat financially strong yet needy for romance.
Step 3: Gain their trust
Scammers usually will start talking with their target after they found out their career and hobbies in a targeted manner, making the victims feel like as if they had many common topics. Scammers came across as someone who is caring, to let their guard down. Soon enough, they will fall in a romantic relationship with the scammers.
Step 4: Encourage investment
Now the scammers will will inadvertently reveal that he has made investment transactions and obtained good returns, arousing the interest of victims. Then, the victims are encouraged to make investments, small amount first. They will give them profits first by tampering with the platform data, in order to make them invest more in it.
Step 5: Take the money and get lost
Now according the scammers’ terms, the “pig is fat” now. Victims will find out that they cannot withdraw their funds, or the losses are increasing. At last, their boyfriends / girlfriends are no longer there for them.
That completes the final step of a “pig-killing” scam. Usually scammers get a lot while victims lost everything, both financially and emotionally.

How to avoid such scams?

Scammers hurt victims both financially and emotionally in a “pig-killing” scam, making it hard to avoid. So, what should we do to avoid it?
First, scammers usually won’t show their face, so they will reject to have video chat. Try to give them a video call when you are developing a romantic relationship with someone online.
Second, be cautious when your boyfriend / girlfriend asks you to make investment.
At last, make sure you validate any investment platform recommended by anyone online before taking the next step.

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