'Pig butchering' scams
Despite the name, no pigs are harmed in this scam. However, your wallet may be in danger.
Alexander Pan avatar
Written by Alexander Pan
Updated over a week ago

Don't be fooled by the name of this scam, pig butchering has nothing to do with swines or butchers. No, this name refers to a unique scam in which victims are groomed to invest large amounts of money and crypto, often on fake crypto apps, only to lose it all.

As this is a safety issue and then some, we're going to take a look into what 'pig butchering' is (and where the name comes from), how this scam works, and what to do to stay safe. Just remember that if you need support or someone to talk to, our Sonder support team is available 24/7 to chat whenever you need it.

What exactly is a 'pig butchering' scam?

'Pig butchering' is a unique scam that follows the pattern of well-worn romance scams - i.e scammers start striking up a conversation and the victims form an attachment (called grooming), and then tricking victims into sending money and/or gifts before ghosting.

What makes pig butchering different is that this scam takes the usual romance scam script and adds an investment spin to it where scammers opt to groom victims into moving their crypto into fraudulent investment websites controlled by the scammers rather than asking for money up front. The scammers then proceed to pressure the victim into putting more and more money into the fraudulent investment websites, before disappearing altogether with the stolen funds when the victim tries to withdraw their money and/or crypto.

"Pigs" are the targets, who are "butchered" by the scammers, hence why the scam is known as 'pig butchering'. Don't worry, no pigs are harmed in this.

As for how this scam works, there are a few steps to how a scammer will operate:

  1. The scammer will start by texting a potential victim via SMS or Whatsapp, pretending to be a wrong number or an acquaintance from their past.

  2. A friendly conversation will begin, which the scammer will maintain frequently. This is the 'grooming'' stage of the scam.

  3. Once a "friendship" has been established, the conversation will turn into talk about investments. It's important to note that scammers won't try to straight up ask victims for money. Rather, they will assess the communications and adapt the conversation accordingly in order to persuade the victim later down the road.

  4. The victim will be shown steps and screenshots on how to download trading apps, transfer funds, and how to buy or transfer funds into cryptocurrency, all of which is aimed at scamming them out of their money and into a fake trading platform/website operated by the scammer.

  5. The victim will be encouraged to invest more and more until the losses pile up, and the scammers disappear with the funds.

Here are some examples of scammers trying to groom a victim as part of this pig butchering scam:

What can I do to protect myself?

As this scam involves cryptocurrency, it is almost impossible to recover once stolen. Therefore, it's important to spot the scam early and avoid whatever the scammer is trying to do. Here's what to look out for with 'pig butchering' scams:

  • Random texts or emails from someone you don’t know.

    • This random person will try to engage you in frequent conversation and once you start it will be hard to stop.

  • The person you are communicating with refuses to talk on the phone or video call.

    • They will make up excuses and create stories as to why they can’t video call, such as their English is not great.

  • The conversation quickly turns to investment that is earning high returns.

    • The scammer may boast about houses in several locations or mention other status symbols like nice cars, expensive holidays, and having an entourage of hired staff as a way to entice victims.

  • The conversation is flirtatious and complimentary, but only when talking about investments.

    • When you try to talk about other things, conversations are short, and the person will say they’re busy.

  • The scammer is constantly trying to focusing your attention on the prize.

    • Reminds potential victims what they could do with the winnings and how they can improve their quality of life.

Related reading:

If you have any questions or need extra support, we're here to help you anytime in any language. Simply start a chat with us via the home screen of the Sonder app.

Information sourced from: CNBC, Forbes, and Tripwire

Image credit: Babe

All content in Sonder's Help Centre is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

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