State leaders issue warning over ‘pig butchering’ scam

State leaders issue warning over ‘pig butchering’ scam

As if the holiday shopping, baking and traveling wasn't enough – state leaders are now warning us about a new scam going around.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – As if the holiday shopping, baking, and traveling wasn’t enough – state leaders are now warning us about a new scam going around. 

The New Mexico Securities Division calls them “pig butchering” scams. Don’t worry, there are no pigs actually involved. It’s another digital scam, but experts say it can be a dangerous one.

Experts say these pig butchering scams are drawn out over a long period of time, and often resemble romance or investment scams.

They say scammers will randomly message people – the so-called pigs – over text or social media, and strike up a conversation.

Experts say those scammers will build a relationship with the victim – fattening them up, as they say – before tricking the victim into sending large amounts of money into fake investment platforms. That’s the butchering part.

Officials say these scammers can walk away with millions of dollars and then disappear without a trace.

“Often these people operate under aliases. They’re not using their real names, their real identities. Often it’s very, very difficult to determine where the communications are even coming from,” said Benjamin Schrope, acting director of the New Mexico Securities Division. 

Schrope confirmed these pig butchering scams have happened in New Mexico before, but he wasn’t able to share exactly when or how much money was stolen.

Officials suggest senior citizens are more likely to fall for these scams, especially if they live alone or spend a lot of time online. They added, in this digital era, anybody can become a victim if they’re not careful.

“What we’ve seen, after and during the COVID quarantining, are a lot of people being at home alone and communicating online. I think that really opened up a world of victims, of potential victims for these would be perpetrators to attempt to communicate with,” Schrope said.  

Here’s what to look out for:

  • Random messages or voicemails from phone numbers or accounts you don’t know
  • Investment opportunities that seem too good to be true – experts say they almost always are
  • Strangers asking you for money or offering to send you money – experts say that’s one way they try to build the relationship
  • Lastly, messages saying you only have a certain amount of time to invest and to act quick

The scam is pretty new, but experts say they’ve been gaining traction for a few years now.

Just last week, federal prosecutors indicted four men in California and Illinois who reportedly used pig butchering scams to steal more than $80 million from victims.

If you think you’ve been scammed, call your local police department or reach out to the FBI. 

The New Mexico Securities Division says you can always call them with questions as well.