Protection Guide: What is a Pig Butchering Scam?

In the fall of 2022, it became known that the US government confiscated the cryptocurrency domains used in a large-scale scam that cost the victims more than $10 million. The fraud, dubbed “pig butchering,” has spread beyond East Asia and has begun to gain momentum around the world.

What is pig butchering, and how is it dangerous? We will tell you in this article.

Read about other scams here.

What is a pig butchering scam?

“A Pig Butchering” is based on the use of attractive, but fake online characters. They lure people into a trusting relationship, which after some time passes into the phase of making money. At the same time, scammers feed their victims with financial or romantic promises for a long time, which is called “fattening a pig” in slang.

What is a pig butchering scam

“Scammers find victims in dating apps, on social networks, or even through random text messages masquerading as an incorrect number. They establish relationships with victims and gradually gain their trust, eventually introducing the idea of investing in a business.”

Methods of a fraudulent scheme

Most often, according to experts, the methods of scammers, who are called “handlers”, are based on information from social networks.

They include using the victims’ pain points, as well as encouraging their fantasies of a better life.

Instead of asking for a large sum of money in advance, the attackers gradually convince their “clients” to invest. They regularly mention that they enjoy “more wonderful” things in their life thanks to a mentor who revealed to them an exclusive way of making money online, ask: “Don’t you want to have enough money for your children?”, assure the person that he or she can also earn.

Pig butchering scam scheme

Some even give their victims some money, which they call a “refund,” to convince them to invest larger amounts. Having gained trust, handlers force hapless citizens to send more and more money to fictitious investment platforms.

However, when the victim tries to withdraw his funds, he is told that a commission must be paid before the money can be unblocked. After that, the scammers simply disappear with the stolen funds, which are almost impossible to return.

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World data on the scam

According to estimates of the non-profit Global Anti-Fraud Organization (GASO), since its creation in mid-2021, it has faced almost 2 thousand victims of this kind of fraud, and the total amount of financial damage amounted to more than $ 310 million. According to GASO spokeswoman Grace Yuen, these figures are just the tip of the iceberg, as many victims do not report what happened.

According to the FBI estimates, scams using social engineering led to the fact that in 2021 people lost more than 429 million dollars.

Who commits such crimes?

Most often, such scams are not committed by individuals. They are organized in nature and become no less profitable kind of criminal industry than human trafficking or drug trafficking.

The complexes where the scammers “work” are located, according to experts, are in cities and special economic zones of Cambodia, Myanmar, and Laos.

They are completely autonomous. Dormitories, shops, and canteens are located on the closed territory. Some buildings may have hairdressers, nightclubs, and karaoke rooms serving employees. Each such complex is managed by well-established syndicates. Often they function as legally existing companies that have marketing departments, bonuses, allowances, and promotions.

Two categories of people are engaged in such activities. Someone does it voluntarily for the sake of easy money. However, many are victims themselves: they are deceived by offering well-paid jobs, and instead are taken abroad, sold, and forced to cooperate through threats of violence or torture.

According to former employees released from such a complex, they were forced to work, deprived of water or food, and sometimes beaten or tasered. Some say that there have even been murders in their complexes for refusing to cooperate.

Criminal scheme

The criminal scheme involves the use of employees of different levels.

In the lower part of it, there are so-called leading generators. Their task is to contact dozens of new people every day. As soon as such a generator manages to start an online conversation, the potential victim is transferred to the next member of the team, whose function is to establish trust.

After several weeks of correspondence, an invitation to invest, and the victim’s deposit, she is handed over to the so-called closer, who convinces the unfortunate to give more and more money.

At the same time, the authorities of the countries where these complexes exist are well aware of their activities. The Government of Cambodia at the end of September admitted that up to 100 thousand people were allegedly sold to the country to work in the field of online fraud. Non-governmental organizations are trying to fight syndicates, especially in cases where they are contacted by the families of victims of human trafficking. In particular, GASO has helped to release 172 people abducted by criminal gangs since July last year.

What does the FBI recommend to users so that they do not become victims of the “a pig butchering” scam?

FBI representatives point out that you should not invest funds at the call of strangers on the Internet. You can not tell on the web about your financial situation to unknown subjects, with whom you have just started to get acquainted.

Also, do not believe the promises of trading sites and entities that cryptocurrency will bring a very large profit. This is a hoax. One should beware of those who urge to act quickly and invest in cryptocurrencies while the market is on the rise. The FBI’s appeals have not yet led to the proper result.


In general, the pig butchering scam consists of four elements. These include social networks or dating apps, WhatsApp, lack of video (scammers will come up with all sorts of excuses not to make a video call), and investment chatter.

Meanwhile, this criminal business is spreading further and further beyond Asia — to the United States and the English-speaking countries of America and Europe. Approximately two-thirds of the total number of victims of “pig butchering”, according to the latest information from the FBI, are women aged 25 to 40 years. About a third of the victims have higher education. Facebook, Instagram, or WhatsApp have met with a fraudster.


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