Have you ever heard of the term “social engineering”? It is a technique commonly used by hackers to interact and get into the social circle of their victims. This helps the hackers learn about their target and even get them to do things that will help their malicious intent. The “Pig Butchering” scam is a technique used by hackers where the hacker steals all the victim’s money by first luring them in. It operates on a much larger scale than social engineering and even uses forced labour for the same.
Pig Butchering Scam: Origin
This new type of scam first began in China and used age-old methodologies or ways of butchering. You must have heard that before cutting down a pig, they are fed well, so they fatten up and give more meat. In this scam, the victims have also been treated the same way, and once they are ready, the scammers take everything they have. Most of the time, cryptocurrency is the primary way these scams are orchestrated.
Research shows that scammers go after people who are vulnerable, old or have little knowledge of the entire system. They keep on feeding the victim till they are ready to be butchered. It takes a lot of time and effort from the side of the scammer, but even if they have a success ratio of 10-20%, it’s worth it. The worst part is that crime syndicates in China build scripts and playbooks and force new scammers or even labourers (victims of human trafficking) to do it.
How does the scam work?
Just like social engineering, the “Pig Butchering” scam also involves building a connection with the victim. In most cases, it starts with a simple “Hi” or “Hello” over text or a social media platform. Then depending on the reply of the victim, the scammer tries to build a conversation with them. The victim feels that they have made a new friend, just like how a pig feels when he is fed by the Butcher. But in the end, the pig gets killed for his meat, and the victim loses all his money.
Now, after the scammers feel that the victim is prepped and trusts them, they talk about a new cryptocurrency scheme where they have made a lot of money. If the victim is gullible enough to believe this, voila! the scammer has gotten himself another pig. The scammer then tries to get the victim to use a malicious app or website that looks legit and might even be copied from the multiple legitimate platforms out there.
These platforms used by hackers look real and show all information regarding the crypto market, which makes the victim trust it even more. Now comes the most interesting part. Initially, the victim might add a small amount of money to the app to check it out. The scammer has full control over this platform, so they let the funds increase in value and even let the victim withdraw some of it. This gets the victim to trust the platform and adds even more money to the platform. Sometimes, scammers even video call their victims so as to gain their trust.
For the victim, the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is here. They believe they will make a lot of money and decide to go all in. Once the victim deposits all the money they have, the scammers shut down the platform and run away. Now, no matter what the victim tries is of no use.
Steps against the Pig Butchering Scam
It’s not as if the Chinese government is sitting around letting scammers do what they want. The authorities have been trying to stop such scams since 2021. But as soon as they started cracking down on these crime syndicates, the Pig Butchering scammers moved their operations to Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and more.
Even the FBI is on its heels regarding Pig Butchering Scams, as they have received more than 4,300 complaints resulting in a total loss of over $400 million. They even seized 7 domains that were used for orchestrating such scams.
However, all these steps taken by the authorities wouldn’t be of much help because they cannot stop such scams from their roots. The easier and wiser option would be to educate the masses about such schemes and how to identify if they are being duped. They should also be taught the importance of sharing this information with their friends and family.
What are your thoughts on the Pig Butchering Scam? And do you know anyone who has been a victim of the same? Let us know in the comments below. And, if you found our content informative, share it with your family and friends.