Dear USET/USET SPF Family,
As the holiday season approaches, the USET Office of Economic Development encourages Tribal governments and their citizens to be aware and cautious of increasing prevalence of fiscal scams. Most recently the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued an alert to highlight a prominent virtual currency investment scam known as “pig butchering.” Multiple U.S. law enforcement sources estimate victims in the United States have lost billions of dollars to these scams and other virtual currency investment frauds.
“Pig butchering” scams resemble the practice of fattening a hog before slaughter. Victims invest in supposedly legitimate virtual currency investment opportunities before they are conned out of their money. Scammers refer to victims as “pigs,” and may leverage fictitious identities, the guise of potential relationships, and elaborate storylines to “fatten up” the victim into believing they are in trusted partnerships before they defraud the victims of their assets—the “butchering.” These scams are largely perpetrated by criminal enterprises based in Southeast Asia who use victims of labor trafficking to conduct outreach to millions of unsuspecting individuals around the world.
Red flags to look out for:
- An individual mentions or expresses interest in an investment opportunity leveraging virtual currency with significant returns that they were told about from a new contact who reached out to them unsolicited online or through text message.
- A citizen mentions that they were instructed by an individual who recently contacted them to exchange flat currency for virtual currency at a virtual currency kiosk and deposit the virtual currency at an address supplied by the individual.
- An individual appears distressed or anxious to access funds to meet demands or the timeline of a virtual currency investment opportunity.
Citizens who may be victims of pig butchering should report to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at https://www.ic3.gov/, and the Securities and Exchange Commission’s tips, complaints, and referrals (TCR) system to report investment fraud: https://www.sec.gov/tcr. In the case of elder victims of pig butchering, reach out to Department of Justice’s (DOJ) National Elder Fraud Hotline at 833-FRAUD-11 or 833-372-8311.
For more information, please contact Rebecca Naragon, USET Economic Development Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.