Lakewood police issue warning over popular 'pig butcher' cryptocurrency scam

LAKEWOOD, Colo. — Contact Denver7 has been reporting on cryptocurrency scams for several months, and now a popular one has made its way to Lakewood.

It’s called the “pig butcher scam.” The victim is convinced to hand over their money to an unauthorized crypto investor. The scammer then puts the funds into an account that appears to grow in value. Then, the scammer disappears along with a large amount of cryptocurrency.

A 46-year-old Cleveland, Ohio, man, who wanted to remain anonymous, says he lost $750,000 after falling victim to the scam.

“The term pig butchering basically comes from a farmer fattening up the pig before they slaughter it. And in this case, it’s the suspect who was fattening up their victim,” said Lakewood Police public information officer John Romero.

In the last month, the department has had a couple people fall victim to the scam. Romero says it’s usually through social media and dating sites like LinkedIn and Tinder.

Lakewood police put out an alert on their Facebook page reminding people to stay vigilant.

“I always thought I’d never fall for something like that,” said Steve Belcher, who lost $1.6 million in a pig butcher scam.

The victim from Cleveland reached out to Contact Denver7 when he saw our story from December on Belcher.

The Cleveland victim says he talked to his scammer on Tinder for a few months, long enough for them to gain his trust. That’s when the crypto conversations began.

“She told me about the site to sign up for, and that’s what gave me the confidence that I was doing everything,” he said.

The victim was able to make a few withdrawals from the crypto account he set up without a problem, but soon after, he could no longer access the money. Then he got a message from the scammer telling him he had to pay more than $204,000 in deposits to be able to access his crypto account, only then realizing he’d been scammed.

Lakewood police say there’s several things you can do to prevent this from happening to you.

“It’s one of those things where never spend your money online with someone you don’t know, especially if you’ve never met them in person,” said Romero.

He also stresses to never give out your account information or forms of ID to someone you don’t know.

“Do your homework, and if it’s too good to be true, it probably is,” said the Cleveland scam victim.

Lakewood police say the reality is that most victims of crypto scams will never see their money again. Regardless, you should give police a call right away if you suspect you may be a victim.

Editor’s note: Denver7 seeks out audience tips and feedback to help people in need, resolve problems and hold the powerful accountable. If you know of a community need our call center could address, or have a story idea for our investigative team to pursue, please email us at contact7@thedenverchannel.com or call (720) 462-7777. Find more Contact Denver7 stories here.

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