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Originating in China, the pig-butchering scams have gone on to target scores of individuals seeking companionship on social media platforms and dating apps world over.

Updated On – 10 February 2024, 09:12 PM

Pig-butchering scam: All about the cybercrime that could target you next!

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Hyderabad: With the ever-evolving modus-operandi of cyber crimes, the world of internet is becoming darker and scarier by the day. In yet another disturbing trend of online deception, cybercriminals have devised a new type of scam called “pig-butchering” to exploit unsuspecting individuals around the world.

Originating in China and gaining traction during the COVID-19 pandemic, the pig-butchering scams have gone on to target scores of individuals seeking companionship on social media platforms and dating apps world over.

What is a “pig-butchering” scam?

These scams involve long-term frauds that combine investment schemes, cryptocurrency frauds and romance scams. The name for these scams originates from the Chinese phrase “Shaz Hu Pan” which translates to “pig butchering” in English.

In these scams, scammers typically create fake profiles on dating apps and social media platforms and hunt for individuals looking for companionship. They lure their potential victims in romantic ways to end up becoming their “friend” or “lovers”.

Once they manage to gain the trust of the victim, they “fatten the pig” (manipulate victims into investing huge sums) and then they “butcher the pig” (pull out the scam on them).

How does the scam work?

The scams may start as a potential date from a dating app or a long-lost friend direct messaging on social media platforms. Scamsters hunt for their victims on different platforms in different guises.

The cyber crooks may then make consistent contact and try to establish trust by continuing to talk over weeks or months depending on how trusting they feel their victims are. Once they earn the trust of the victims, the scammers encourage and manipulate them into investing in cryptocurrency trading.

The fraudsters assure the victims of making huge profits by claiming that they have insider tips or family connections in the investment industry and explain that the massive returns are common.

Victims are then asked to download certain apps or click on links for trading together. However, the apps and/or the websites are fraudulent and controlled by the scammers themselves. Once the victims invest their money on these platforms, the hosts (the scammers) stimulate the victims’ trades to make them look like they are earning profits from it.

In most cases the hosts also encourage their victims to withdraw some of their gains in order to gain their trust in the investment and build  confidence. Convinced, victims make larger investments, in a step that is the proverbial “fattening of the pig”.

When the victims try to withdraw their money after the gaining huge profits, the platforms start claiming issues with the accounts of the victims. In some cases, the victims are also asked to pay hefty fees or taxes to withdraw their money.

The transactions on the block-chain and the fraudsters then disappear, never to be seen again, leaving the victims high and dry.

Warning signs of pig butchering

* Messages from wrong numbers

* Your new online friend or a long lost friend suddenly starts talking about crypto and investments

* You Tinder match start to “love bomb” you in no time

* You are asked to download “special” crypto trading apps

* The new match/online buddy/long-lost friend starts trading with you

* You gain quick but large returns on your small investments


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National Cyber Security