A recently divorced mum-of-three has revealed how she lost her more than $100,000 to a scammer she met on Tinder after he convinced her to invest in bogus cryptocurrency schemes.
Rebecca Holloway, 42, was coming out of a messy second marriage when she was swindled out of more than $100,000 by fraudsters posing as a French entrepreneur called ‘Fred.’
She is the third victim to come forward in recent months about a cruel scam known as ‘pig butchering’ – whereby victims are effectively ‘fattened up’ with a fake romantic relationship before being ‘butchered’ by fraudulent investment advice.
Tech executive Shreya Datta, 37, and single mum Kate, 41 both revealed they lost $450,000 and $80,0000 respectively in an eerily similar rouse. In all, the three women have handed over half a million dollars to scammers.
Officials say the con is exploding across the US, with Secret Service agents admitting they were seeing ‘a ton’ of cases. The body is responsible for ‘safeguarding’ America’s financial and payment systems and regularly probes high-value fraud cases.
Speaking exclusively to Dailymail.com, Holloway said: ‘Single women approaching middle-age are so vulnerable.
Rebecca Holloway. pictured, has revealed how she lost her entire 401(K) to a scammer she met on Tinder after he convinced her to invest in bogus cryptocurrency schemes
‘We have money but we might not have met the right guy yet. And suddenly this good-looking man starts talking to you and you’re excited.
‘Looking back, the signs are so obvious. But at the time you want to believe it’s real.’
Holloway – a freelance marketing executive who once worked on Wall Street – was immediately drawn to ‘Fred’ after receiving consistent and attentive messages, which made him so unlike the men she usually matched.
He claimed to be a French entrepreneur living in Philadelphia, who had studied economics at university. He also said he had a daughter – something the pair bonded over as Holloway has three teenage children.
They matched on Tinder in March this year and quickly moved over to text where ‘Fred’ then started discussing his cryptocurrency investments, which immediately peaked Holloway’s interest.
Much of what he was saying was accurate. He told her that in the wake of the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank – there was a lot of money to be made in alternative platforms.
At the time, media outlets were running reports with headlines such as ‘Bitcoin spikes amid Silicon Valley Bank collapse.’
Intrigued, she thought there was ‘no harm’ in listening to Fred and under his instruction she transferred $1,000 to what she believed was a real cryptocurrency platform.
The platforms he ushered her too were modelled off legitimate sites – but with slightly different URLs.
She immediately saw returns on her investment, making $168 on four ‘trades’.
The ‘pig butchering’ con is long-winded and sees the scammer engage in a months-long relationship to build up trust.
Holloway shared exchanges between her and ‘Fred’ exclusively with Dailymail.com
Holloway is the third victim to come forward in recent months about a cruel scam known as ‘pig butchering’- whereby victims are effectively ‘fattened up’ with a fake romantic relationship before being butchered by fraudulent investment advice
Crooks often allow victims to withdraw money easily from the investment app in the beginning – but once they have invested heavily they will lose this option.
Sure enough, Holloway was immediately able to retrieve her $168 earnings and transfer them back to her bank account.
She then traded a further $6,000 from her savings and saw her money continue to balloon.
In the meantime, her supposed relationship with ‘Fred’ was blossoming. While he avoided meeting up in person, he would video-call her while he was making dinner – though she said he was mostly off-camera and she struggled to get a proper look at his face.
Before long, she had cashed out her entire 401K (workplace retirement plan) – worth $100,000. After accounting for the government tax she faced during the transaction, she was left with $70,000 to invest again.
Alarm bells only rang when she met up with a friend for dinner and she shared the details of her relationship with ‘Fred.’
‘My friend told me about pig butchering scams and that’s when I realised what had happened,’ she said.
‘It felt like a movie where suddenly everything around me blurred and became distorted. I didn’t even try to withdraw my money, I knew at that point it was gone.’
On reflection, she had suspected several times something was up with ‘Fred.’ At times, it felt like she was speaking to several different people, with his moods changing frequently. She also noticed he didn’t appear to have a French accent in videos he sent.
This was something single mum Kate, from Vancouver, Washington, had observed too. Like Holloway she believed she had met a French entrepreneur – though he said he lived in Seattle.
He claimed to be called ‘Andy’ and working as a wine trader. Over time, the duo struck up a relationship when he convinced her to invest $80,000.
Last month, she told Dailymail.com: ‘I was the perfect sucker in a way because I knew nothing about cryptocurrencies.’
And tech executive Shreya Datta also believed she was talking to a French wine trader – who ended up conning her out $450,000.
Tech executive Shreya Datta, 37, left, and single mom Kate, 41, right, both revealed they lost $450,000 and $80,0000 respectively in an eerily similar rouse
Kate, 41, who used a pseudonym for the piece, lost $80,000 to a ‘pig butchering’ scam
Datta – who earns a six-figure salary in a global tech firm – told the Inquirer she had felt as though she had ‘a hole in my soul for not having a man in my life’ – hence why she was tricked.
‘I was in a trance,’ she said adding ‘it’s like my psychology was hacked.’
Holloway has now reported her case to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority – but she has no idea if she will ever see her money again.
Data from the FBI’s Internet Crimes Complaint Center (IC3) shows cryptocurrency scams are the fastest growing type of investment fraud.
In all victims reported losses of $2.57 billion last year, up by over 183 percent on 2021.
In May, Secret Service agents in the San Francisco field office hosted an ‘Ask Me Anything on Reddit’ where they said pig butchering was now among the most common scam they were seeing.
‘In San Francisco specifically, we tend to focus on victim-based cases, meaning those where there’s an individual(s) or company that’s been affected,’ the body was quoted as saying in Blockworks.
‘These days we see a ton of pig butchering investment scams and have devoted resources to help those victims.’
And in September, Andrew Frey, a forensic financial analyst with the United States Secret Service in the San Francisco Field Office, told Forbes that pig butchering is now a ‘super scam.’
‘They took that up a notch in terms of sophistication in creating these apps with the perception that people are making money,’ he said.
On its website the Secret Service says it had a ‘long and storied history’ of keeping America’s payment systems safe.
It regularly probes elaborate financial and cybercrime activities. In 2021, authorities said romance fraud was one of the ‘most significant types’ of fraud crimes that it investigates.
Many pig butchering operations are reportedly run by criminal syndicates in Cambodia which employ thousands of people.
A report by Vice News and the South China Morning Post found last year that workers themselves are enslaved and abused, having been lured there with the promise of a legitimate job.
They are given scripts tailored to individual victims.
Dailymail.com also reached out to Hinge and Tinder for comment.