⚫ Don’t become a victim of a dangerous “pig butchering” scam

⚫ The NJ Bureau of Securities is cracking down on fraudulent cybersecurity investments

⚫ NJ residents are lured into bogus online relationships then ripped off

The New Jersey Bureau of Securities is urging Garden State residents to beware of “pig butchering” scams, where perpetrators essentially fatten victims up and then swindle them out of all their funds.

The Bureau has ordered three website operators involved in cyber scams to stop offering fraudulent cryptocurrency investments in violation of the New Jersey Securities Law.

According to state Attorney General Matt Platkin, these scams start with the perpetrators building up a sense of comradery between them and their victims, so they can squeeze every cent they possibly can out of these people with promises of huge returns on investments.

“We are working around the clock to protect the victims of these types of scams and to show these scammers our laws still apply in cyberspace,” he said.

Hacker working on laptop in the dark
grinvalds GettyImages

Who's doing what

The bureau said Meta Capitals, Cresttrademining, and Forex Market Trade were engaged in fraud in connection with the offer and sales of securities on their websites by conduct that collectively includes:

• Omitting or misrepresenting that fees or charges would be imposed before investors could withdraw their funds

• Omitting material facts to potential investors, such as the identity of their principals, how investors funds would be used, and the risks of their investment plans

• Posting bogus testimonials from clients that use stock photos and/or canned statements that appear on multiple cryptocurrency investment websites under different entity names.

The Bureau also found four of the entities have been violating the New Jersey Securities Law by offering and selling unregistered securities, and that Meta Capitals Limited and Cresttrademining Limited have been acting as unregistered broker-dealers.

Pig butchering scams are rapidly becoming more popular in New Jersey and across the nation, with an estimated $429 million in losses reported in 2021.

Tero Vesalainen GettyImages
Tero Vesalainen GettyImages

Tricked by romance

New Jersey Bureau of Securities Chief Amy Kopleton said “even the savviest of investors can have a hard time recognizing fraud when it’s being perpetrated by someone for whom they have a romantic interest.”

“This makes social media sites appealing to scammers as they know it is easier to scam someone who thinks they are in a relationship," she said.

To try to prevent New Jersey residents from becoming victims, the Bureau is offering some tips to avoid “pig butchering” including:

• Never respond to unsolicited messages from unknown contacts

• Never send funds to or invest based solely on the recommendation of a social media relationship

• Be wary of investments promising high returns with no-risk or guarantees

• Watch out for platforms and domain names impersonating legitimate financial institutions

• Never be rushed into an investment by the threat of a “limited time only” offer

• Verify the identity of anyone who offers to sell you an investment and research the investment they are offering

You can learn more about how to protect yourself from becoming a victim of an investment scam, and get general information on cryptocurrency investments on the Bureau’s investor education page.

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at david.matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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