PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The FBI issued a stern warning Tuesday about a fast-growing scam targeting those looking for love.

It is called “pig butchering” for the way scammers attract victims with “promises of romance and riches” before conning them out of their money.

Here’s how the feds say scammers do it:

  • They target victims via a dating app
  • They gain the confidence and trust of victim
  • They claim to have inside knowledge about the cryptocurrency market and say they can help make the victim money
  • The scammer convinces the victim to invest in cryptocurrency and transfer all the funds to the scammer

According to the FBI, the scam started in China late in 2019 and has quickly spread around the world to become “alarmingly” popular.

Investigators say that last year the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received more than 4,300 complaints related to crypto-romance scams that resulted in losses of more than $429 million.

Here’s how the FBI says you can protect yourself:

  • Never send money, trade, or invest based on the advice of someone you have only met online.
  • Don’t talk about your current financial status to unknown and untrusted people.
  • Don’t provide your banking information, Social Security Number, copies of your identification or passport, or any other sensitive information to anyone online or to a site you do not know is legitimate.
  • If an online investment or trading site is promoting unbelievable profits, it is most likely that—unbelievable.

Be cautious of individuals who claim to have exclusive investment opportunities and urge you to act fast.

Finally, if you are a victim of “pig butchering,” other online scams, or crypto-romance fraud, the FBI wants to hear from you. Report the incident to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov or call your FBI local office.