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March 28, 2023

What is Pig Butchering? (It’s Worse Than You Think)

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“Pig butchering” is the latest super scam designed to extort money from unsuspecting targets. The crude term is a reference to the fattening of the pig before slaughter. The criminals perpetrating these scams groom their targets to invest in cryptocurrencies or online gambling through sham websites, then coax them to spend increasing amounts of money, before disappearing with all of it.

How the pig butchering scam works

Here how this type of scam usually works:

  1. Scammers create fake personas and initiate relationships with a suitable victim, the proverbial “pig,” on dating sites, social media, or via random messaging.
  2. After earning the victim’s trust, the criminals persuade them to deposit money in digital asset wallets such as Coinbase.
  3. The scammers then coax their targets to connect the funds to falsified cryptocurrency investment websites and apps.
  4. Once victims join the platform, fraudulent hosts simulate seemingly profitable trades and information. They may even allow their victims to withdraw some “gains” to allay suspicion.
  5. As they gain confidence, victims invest larger sums of money.
  6. At a certain point, the victim feels they’ve had enough and attempts to withdraw their funds from the platform, which will inevitably have an “error” or inform them that fees or taxes have to be paid to cash out.
  7. Fraudsters disappear with the victim’s cash.


Want to know more?
For a deeper dive into “pig butchering” scams, including how regulators are responding, download our whitepaper. 

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The relationship between human trafficking and pig butchering

Unfortunately, that is just one side of the pig butchering scam. Because it is fueled by humans trafficking, the people involved are often victims themselves.

This dual-sided scamming strategy has spread to organized crime groups across the globe, with a focus on special economic zones (SEZs) across Indochina, such as Myanmar and Cambodia. People from these regional hotspots are lured by fake job advertisements to scam centers, where they’re forced to commit large-scale online fraud against innocent victims, often at the threat or use of extreme violence.

What can payment providers do about scams like pig butchering?

Financial institutions facilitating the transfer of digital asset payments can mitigate risk by implementing tighter customer verification protocols and continuous monitoring of the threat landscape. Our solutions and services can help you detect fraudulent activity within your platform, so you are not unwittingly supporting scams like pig butchering.