What Is "Pig Butchering"? US Software Executive Falls Victim to Online Romance Scam, Losing Over $450,000

Woman met the scammer on dating app Hinge

In a cautionary tale reminiscent of the notorious "Tinder Swindler," a 37-year-old tech executive from Philadelphia has come forward with her harrowing experience of falling victim to an online romance scam, dubbing it the latest "Hinge Cringe."

Pig Butchering Scam

Shreya Datta, the victim of this elaborate scheme, shared that she was ensnared in what's known as the "pig butchering" scam, a cryptocurrency investment ploy that left her bank account depleted by over $450,000.

The devastating loss prompted Datta to make drastic lifestyle changes, including downsizing her living arrangements and selling her vehicle, as she reflected on the warning signs she overlooked during her purported relationship, which initially blossomed on the dating app Hinge.

Datta, speaking to the Philadelphia Inquirer, compared her experience to having her mind "hacked," revealing how these scams prey on vulnerable people seeking love. The term "pig butchering" comes from the Chinese name for the scam, which tricks victims into fake cryptocurrency deals under the guise of romance.

Shreya Dutta

The scammers create fake personas, showering their targets with affection to convince them to invest real money through fake apps. Datta's scammer, posing as "Ancel Mali," started on Hinge and then moved to WhatsApp, spinning tales of financial success and urging her to invest more money.

Despite initial gains, Datta soon found herself unable to access her profits and was pressured to pay additional fees disguised as taxes. Her story highlights the broader issue of investment fraud, which led to $3.31 billion in losses reported in 2022, according to the US Department of Justice.

Investigations into these scams have uncovered complex networks operated by criminal syndicates in Southeast Asia, who exploit vulnerable people by deceiving them. Reports suggest that thousands of workers are coerced into perpetuating these scams, enduring exploitation and abuse, raising concerns of a growing humanitarian crisis.

Despite facing the harsh reality of her situation, Datta remains determined to raise awareness and support others who may have been victims of similar scams.

In response to inquiries, law enforcement agencies and dating app platforms have reiterated their commitment to combating such scams through education and proactive measures. They stress the need for collective efforts to protect vulnerable people from falling prey to deceptive tactics.

As Datta continues to navigate the aftermath of her ordeal, her resilience and advocacy stand as a beacon of hope, inspiring others to stay vigilant and resilient in the face of adversity.