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April 25, 2024

Attorney General Bird Warns Iowans of “Pig-Butchering" Scams

DES MOINES—Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird today issued a warning to Iowans about a rise in “pig-butchering” scams.

In a pig-butchering scam, con artists build trust with their victims and “fatten them up” for a rip-off by flirting or developing a friendship over a long period of time. Often, scammers will first reach out over social media messaging apps and find common ground with their targets. The con artists then tell a story to convince the innocent victim to send money through cryptocurrency, where the money cannot be tracked or retrieved.

A recent example out of southeast Iowa serves as a stark reminder of the dangers of online scams. A 69-year-old man was befriended by a scammer posing as a young woman on Facebook. The scammer, who went by “Delia” from Illinois, talked with the man on Facebook messenger and over the phone for months to build the man’s trust. They bonded over common hobbies such as cooking. She then persuaded him to send money through Bitcoin, making him believe that the money was going to a pretend investment company. He started with just $1,500. But when the scammer sent fake screenshots of investment statements showing he had made $750,000 off of it, he continued to increase his investments. He invested a total of $164,000. The man even borrowed against the titles of his two Harley Davidson motorcycles. This scam came at a time when his wife had just lost her job, and they could have used the money more than ever.

“Pig-butchering scams are evil long-cons,” said Attorney General Bird. “Scammers prey on Iowans’ emotions to build trust over time before stealing their savings, ruining relationships, and taking advantage of people when they are at their most vulnerable. We are spreading the word to stop the scam.”

Pig-Butchering Scam Tactics:

  • Scammers connect with Iowans on social media or dating apps, pretending to flirt or build a friendship.
  • They build a relationship with their victims over time, often for weeks or months before asking for money or “investments.”
  • After building a trusted relationship with their victims, scammers will tell them a story to persuade them to send money through cryptocurrency.

How to Protect Yourself:

  • Be wary of connecting with strangers online, and do not accept friend requests from people you do not know.
  • Do not send money through cryptocurrency. Once that money is gone, you cannot get it back.
  • Seek advice and do thorough research before making an investment.
  • Do not send money to people you do not personally know. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • If Iowans are suspicious of a scam, they should contact their friends and family or the Iowa Attorney General’s office.

If you or someone you know has been targeted by a pig-butchering scam, contact the Iowa Attorney General’s office at 888-777-4590 or file a complaint online:


For More Information:

Alyssa Brouillet | Communications Director

(515) 823-9112

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