Caught in a Pig Butchering Scam?

June 25, 2024

Pig butchering…no, not the kind that happens on a farm and begets pork and bacon!

It also refers to a type of investment scam, which originated in China and has since spread to other countries. It is called “pig butchering” because the scammers use a technique called “raising a pig” to lure them to slaughter…or in this case, lure victims into investing in a fake company or project.

Scammers approach victims with a promise of high returns on an investment, normally involving cryptocurrency or some kind of digital asset.  They create companies or fronts that render fake documents and marketing material to make things seem legitimate. They are so good with their trade, they are able to get victims convinced to invest and send money to them. 

Before they go for the kill, however, the scammer then “raises the pig” by sending the victim fake updates and reports showing the investment is doing well, and the victim is convinced again to invest more money.  Eventually, the scammer disappears with the victim’s money, leaving the victim with significant financial losses.  The term “pig butchering” comes from the idea that the scammer is “fattening up” the victim like a pig, making them believe they are getting rich, before “butchering” them by taking their money and disappearing.

It’s important to be aware of these types of scams and to always do your own research and duediligence before investing in any opportunity!

The biggest pig butchering scam ever recorded is the PlusToken scam, which was uncovered in 2020. PlusToken was a cryptocurrency Ponzi scheme that defrauded an estimated 3 million victims worldwide, with losses totaling around $3 billion.  The scam was operated by a group of individuals based deep in China, who were very successful in this scam.

The scammers used social media and online marketing to lure victims, and even created a fake cryptocurrency exchange to make the scheme appear legitimate. Ultimately, Chinese authorities uncovered the scam and arrested several individuals involved. However, much of the stolen funds were laundered through cryptocurrency exchanges and remain unaccounted for to this day. 

The PlusToken scam is considered one of the largest cryptocurrency frauds in history, and its impact was felt across the global cryptocurrency market.

Always remember, if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

Stay protected. Be cautious of unsolicited job offers or websites promising easy money; research the company and website thoroughly, checking for reviews, ratings, and a physical address.  Never download software or click on links, and keep your antivirus software and operating system up to date. Use strong passwords and don’t pass on multi-factor authentication when it is available. There are great security tools available to you—don’t be afraid to use them! Last but not least, ask your IT team about continuous monitoring. These devices stay on guard 24/7/365, always on the lookout for suspicious activity.

When it comes to sophisticated scams like pig butchering and other iterations of social engineering, prioritize caution and protect your online security. Data theft is no joke…and neither is data protection. Security awareness is crucial for a cybersecure system!

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