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“Pig Butchering” Combines Text Scams, Crypto Scams and More

Butchery Scam Shop

There is a new scam called pig butchering that is gaining in awareness for all the wrong reasons. Meaning, it’s becoming more well-known because more people are losing more and more money to it.Scammers use the veil of friendship, caring and investment advice to swindle smart people out of millions of dollars.

We’re talking about a person losing hundreds of thousands of dollars, even millions, in this scam.

Pig butchering” seems to have originated in Asia, but victims are everywhere around the world and especially the United States, in wealthy areas.

As horrific as it sounds, there are no knives or blood involved in this crime—but the victims must certainly feel like they were being gently led and tricked into a financial slaughter.

It’s a continuing and ongoing scam that, according to the Internet Crime Complaint Center of the FBI, stole almost $430 million from Americans last year.

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal (October 20, 2022), a common pig butchering scam involves text messages, scamming, plenty of deceit, a wealthy target (victim) and the lure of greater wealth, fake amazing cryptocurrency returns, and returns through crypto currency.

More than that, it involves the slow cultivation of a relationship with the victim, taking months to develop in order to gain a high level of trust, and generate investments from them.

It’s over that time span where the scammer “fattens the pig”—makes the seemingly real crypto returns account large—that the victims invest huge sums of money.

And then loses every penny of it.

How to fatten a pig before butchering.

Here is a look at a common scenario where an innocent target is fooled and becomes the victim.

  • The target receives a text message that seems intended for someone else. The text is from the scammer, who pretends to feel bad about the mistake.) Text messages that are scams (scam texts) have become a big problem, especially in the U.S. The same goes with social media messaging scams.
  • The target (an ideal one), is a decent person who responds to the scammers apology. That’s the first mistake, and the hook. The scammer, who seems decent, starts a conversation. The target doesn’t have a clue what’s going on.
  • The scammer becomes the target’s friend. This is no accident. The scammer has profiled the target and starts a conversation on topics to engage the target. Everything the scammer says about their life is a falsehood. The friends exchange regular texts and emails. They share what’s going on in their lives.
  • The scammer tells his friend about his investment success with cryptocurrency. The scammer can even show his friend screen shots of his investment success. More often, cryptocurrency (digital currency such as Bitcoin) is the best way to invest and make money.
  • The scammer sends his friend a link to the “same investment” he himself made and did so well with.
  • The target makes their initial investment, encouraged by their friend. The first investment seems to be a safe one, maybe just $1,000 or so, and it shows an immediate good return. All the financials are fake, manipulated. The target doesn’t know it yet, but they’re now a victim, and it only gets worse.
  • The victim invests more money, lots of it. Encouraged by their early investment success (how easy it was, how great the returns were) and by their very helpful and caring friend, whom they’ve still never met, the victim pours a large amount of money into the account. It could be hundreds of thousands or a million dollars, and more.
  • When the victim wants to withdraw money, it isn’t easy…and is never able to. There does come a time where victim wants to withdraw some of their investment, for some practical reason. That’s when they first run into some roadblocks and difficulties. Typically, they’re told there are substantial fees and/or taxes to pay before they can get some money out.
  • After a time, the victim discovers the devastating truth. When the suspicion and dread become too great, the victim begins to fear, then realize, that they have become victim of a horrible scam.

Pig butchering combines all the prep work. fattening the fake crypto account like fattening a pig before it all comes to an end.

A real-life example.

As mentioned earlier, the Wall Street Journal ran a story about Pig Butchering in October of 2022. In that instance, the victim lived in Northern California, and she was tricked by a scammer who claimed he was stuck in Seattle, Washington, waiting to get back to China, his home. Covid, he claimed, was the reason he couldn’t fly home.

Here’s how it all started. With a seemingly innocent text message that was anything but that.

The scam texts.

The target, her name is Jane, received a strange text she figured wasn’t intended for her. It said,are we going to the salon tonight?”  Jane admitted she normally would respond to a message like that, but this time she did.

The first mistake, most security experts would tell you, was responding at all to strange text. However, Jane is a decent person and felt obliged to tell the person who sent the message that she, Jane, was likely not who the message was meant for.

From there a conversation started, and all the steps that happened above fell into place over the next three months.

Eventually, Jane lost her savings, her retirement savings, and investment money of other friends she encouraged to invest with her.

The total? Jane lost 1.6 million dollars. That’ a lot more than the $300,000 average. It took three months from the time of the first text from her eventual new friend (the scammer) to lose that money.

Jane lives with feelings, regret, guilt and self-blame.

“I haven’t really smiled since I found out that this happened,” Jane was quoted in the article. “I feel really helpless and hopeless.”

Learn what you can do to protect yourself.

Chris Parker, founder of, hosts the Easy Prey podcast and interviews guests on topic ranging from fraud and scams to cybersecurity and keeping safe in daily life. He recently interviewed a guest on pig butchering. You can find that episode on others by clicking the link below.

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