It's a terrible name but something we all need to know about now!
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Pig butchering become an all-too-common online scam. And there's little the growing number of victims can do. Pig butchering is a blend of catfishing and cryptocurrency scams. It's named after a technique where scammers fatten up their victims (metaphorically) before taking all of their money "nose to tail", meaning the whole lot.
The scam has since spread globally, ensnaring unsuspecting victims worldwide and garnishing billions of dollars. It is a big business and getting bigger. You can do some things to keep safe, but you must understand how it works first.
How it happens
The scammer reaches out; it may be an SMS, LinkedIn or Instagram message. They often pretend they dialled or texted the wrong number. But if you respond with "Sorry, I think you have texted/called the wrong number, they respond and start a conversation. It could be something like, "It's Kirra. I will be late to pick my son up from daycare" or similar that will grab you so you will more than likely respond and say, "Hey, sorry wrong number". They will then say, "Hey, thanks, nice to meet you how is your day" or similar to start a conversation. These scammers are psych specialists who know how to provoke an emotional reaction and tug at our heartstrings.
Through prolonged conversations, the scammer builds a close relationship with the victim. And it can be months and months. Sharing personal stories and maybe a photo here and there of their life.
Conversations soon turn to their somewhat luxurious lifestyle, stepping it up all the way, starting small and growing thanks to a magical crypto trading platform.
Once trust is cemented, they introduce their victim to this platform, promising high returns. They will often get you to invest around $500 or less at first into a well-known and legitimate-looking crypto account showing a small return to entice you to invest more. But as you are encouraged to invest more and more, they will continue to show you returns through a completely doctored account until you are completely drained of funds. Once the scammer has what they want, they disappear.
There is so much of this happening you will not get your money back. Police prioritise investigations over seven figures, so you may be on your own if you lose $10-50K.
Several red flags can help you identify a potential pig butchering scam.
Unsolicited texts from unknown numbers consider this stranger danger Rapid progression of the relationship/friendship Constant avoidance of video calls or meetings but happy to send photos Promotions of crypto platforms High guaranteed returns
How to protect yourself
Do not engage in conversations online or via SMS with people you do not know no matter how much the "wrong number" text pulls at your heartstrings.
Avoid extensive conversations with strangers online through messages on LinkedIn, Whatsapp etc. LinkedIn is full of scammers now, so do not connect with people you do not know; if you do, be very cautious.
Before investing, research the platform or application being promoted. Check it from multiple angles. Avoid links "sent by a friend" on their social media accounts.
Patch, Patch, Patch. Set your devices to auto-update any application updates because these security patches are your first line of defence.
Implement MFA or 2FA Multifactor or at least two-factor authentication.
Steps if you fall victim if you suspect you've been scammed.
Screenshots, transaction records, and any other correspondence.
Report the scam to your local police and financial institutions.
If you've shared personal or financial information, take steps to protect your assets and identity by changing passwords, cancelling credit cards, etc.
Be vigilant, be cautious and don't talk to strangers!