Dating app scam "pig butchering" hits the Netherlands; One Rotterdammer lost €14,000

Dating app scam

A relatively new scam targeting dating app users has started to become more common in the Netherlands. Known as "pig butchering," the con takes place over an extended period of time where scammers luring lure people in on dating apps, before tricking them into investing real money in fake trading platforms. While fraud via online dating is far from new, the combination of dating and trading applications is a new development, according to the Dutch anti-fraud organization FraudeHelpDesk.

This form of scam was first introduced in China before it extended its reach to the United States and Europe. The term "pig butchering," which is a rough translation of its Chinese name "shāzhūpán", refers to the way victims are "fattened up" with affection by the scammer, before falling prey to the scam and effectively being slaughtered.

Marloes Kolthof from the online fraud hotline FraudeHelpDesk warned in February of scammers using dating apps to manipulate their victims into financial investments. ''They build a relationship with the victim very slowly. First, trust is gained,'' Kolthof said told NPO Radio 1. This process could span several weeks or even months. These scammers typically attempt to shift the conversation from the dating app to WhatsApp or other messaging platforms, where encryption makes tracking the messages more difficult for businesses and law enforcement.

At that point, the scammer usually steers the conversation toward trading investments. As Kolthof noted, “The scammer pretends to be a successful investor or a business owner.” He then asks the victim to log into fake bank websites or trading apps to invest their money. This can lead to victims losing thousands of euros.< ..

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