Bay Area residents have lost over $6.8 million from January to October through scams, according to FBI data seen by The Standard—as a new scam known as “pig butchering” rises on social media.
As gift-shopping surges this holiday season, unfortunately so do online scams, warns the FBI.
Consumers and sellers nationwide have already lost millions of dollars from schemes the FBI calls “non-payment and none-delivery scams”—when orders or payments for goods never show up.
In the Bay Area, there’s a new crypto-related scam making its way around social media—known as “pig butchering.”
Special Agent Bob Tripp, of San Francisco’s Federal Bureau of Investigations field office, said the scam gets its name from fraudsters’ strategy of “fattening up their victims” by tricking them into believing they are seeing huge returns on their investments—before taking off with their money.
So-called “pig butchers” direct victims to crypto-investment websites, claiming once-in-a-lifetime deals. Unbeknownst to the victim, the website actually belongs to the “butcher.”
“[The scammers] induce the victim to invest substantial sums of money and disappear,” Tripp told The Standard.
As Bay Area residents take to the internet for last-minute presents or see sweet deals in their DMs, the FBI says the public should educate themselves on common scams in order to avoid falling victim.
Other FBI tips for staying safe online include using two-step verification for accounts that contain sensitive information, being wary of online retailers offering significantly discounted prices, and being sure to obtain tracking numbers for online purchases.
While the FBI said they are working to catch scammers—the vast expanses of the internet makes eliminating all scams impossible.
If you do get scammed, the FBI urges victims to contact their financial institution immediately, and report what happened to the FBI at IC3.gov or to its San Francisco Field Office at (415) 553-7400.