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Pig butchering – a scam that even the smartest fall for

Have you been texting for a few days with a woman you met on a dating site? Or did you get a text from the wrong number and it turned into a long-distance relationship? Have you started talking about investing and gotten advice on how to start investing in cryptocurrencies? That’s roughly how the scam called pig butchering begins. Let’s talk more about it.

6 minutes of reading

Chapters of the article

Old style deception

The English-speaking countries in particular have been plagued in recent years by a scam called pig butchering. It has been given this endearing name because it actually resembles the slaughter of a pig. The scammers first engage their victim in friendly conversation, compliments and often affection (fattening the pig). But once the victim is sufficiently gullible (the pig is sufficiently fattened), the money grubbing comes next (the pig slaughter).

In many ways, this scam is similar to the classic ones. Everyone has been written to by a random African king asking for custody of the money. But unlike these scams, pig butchering is much more sophisticated. And it’s slowly starting to happen here. That’s why we need to talk about this problem. Awareness is the greatest strength.

Tip: There are many scams in our country. For example, fraudulent offers of work at home in the form of assembling pens or envelopes are common. You can read how it all works in our article.

It’s the coronavirus

The hoax was perpetrated at the beginning of the covid pandemic. There were two reasons. The first was the quarantine that forced us to stay home. So a lot of people took refuge in the virtual world, and online scams flourished because of it. The second reason was the drastic drop in attendance at the casinos in Cambodia’s Sihanoukville, which were run by local gangs. They therefore moved online and the casinos became centres for pig butchering.

How pig butchering works

Let’s first take a look at how the whole butchering thing actually works:

  1. First contact: the scammer usually reaches out to his victim on a social network or dating site, where meeting strangers is not uncommon. A lot of conversations also start with sending a text message to the “wrong number”. This is a text message along the lines of “Hi, this is Peter from basketball. Am I talking to Jana?” The victim may respond in good faith that Peter has the wrong number, thus starting a conversation with the scammer.
  2. Relationship building: In the next phase, the scammer focuses on building a relationship with the victim. For example, he uses social media to find out what his interests are and where he is from. This gives him or her a topic to bond over. Often these relationships are friendly in nature, but other times the scammers try to create love in the victim. The ultimate goal, however, is always to gain their trust. This phase can last for several weeks, increasing the credibility of the scammer.
  3. Thesubtle offer: once the relationship has been built, it’s time for the scam itself. The scammer subtly mentions to his victim that he is investing in cryptocurrencies and it pays off handsomely. At the same time, he might also offer to give her advice if she wants to invest too. But of course he doesn’t want to force anything on her, cryptocurrencies aren’t for everyone..

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  1. The app: if the victim nods to invest, the scammer sends them a link to the app. This app looks very real, has lots of positive reviews, and overall you wouldn’t think anything was wrong. So the victim logs into the app and starts investing. The investments are going well, and so he invests more and more. The tipping point comes when the victim wants to withdraw the invested money.
  2. Fee: If the victim wants to withdraw the money, he has to pay a fee first. This may be, for example, the payment of a tax or a certain licence. This fee is very high and cannot be paid from the money invested in the app. If they still pay the fee, they will never get their money back. All this time, there was no investment, but the victim was sending money to the scammer’s account.

We have also encountered pig butchering in the Affordable Advocate. Our client invested his money. However, once he decided to withdraw the money, he still had to pay for a broker’s license. Fortunately, the police seized some of the money in time thanks to a criminal complaint.

It’s not the crook’s fault

Yes, you read correctly, the fraudster in this case is indeed not to blame. Those who work in the chats are quite possibly victims themselves. Often they are people who are kept somewhere against their will and forced to work up to 16 hours a day. All this under threat of death. Physical violence bordering on torture is also no exception.

For example, the case of Rakesh, an Indian citizen who moved to Thailand with the promise of a job in IT, has come to light. On arrival, however, a Chinese gang took him to Myanmar, stripped him of his documents and isolated him from the world. Rakesh then had to pose as an attractive Russian woman on social media and lure money from people. In this way, he was forced to work for them for 11 months without any monetary remuneration.

So pig butchering and human trafficking go hand in hand. The people behind it all are luring workers from third world countries with the offer of prospective work. However, they then confiscate their documents and force them to work on this scam. The UN estimates that several hundred thousand people may have ended up in this way. It is therefore a multi-level crime with many victims.

How to defend yourself?

As we have already mentioned, information is power. And you can also use information to defend yourself against almost all online scams, including pig butchering. How to do it?

  • Educate yourself: keep up to date with the latest online scams and try to educate your loved ones, especially those who are most vulnerable (children, the elderly, etc.).
  • Verify identities and platforms: If you establish a relationship online, always maintain a certain “healthy” suspicion. Try to verify the person as best you can and if they start talking about investments and cryptocurrencies, you’d better say goodbye.
  • Consult trustworthy people: Before you make any investment, discuss it with someone you trust. Ask your family members, friends or your financial advisor what they think.

Tip: You can contact Corona Lecta with your finances. They deal with common and not so common situations in life related to strategic financial planning. They will discuss your financial, estate and life goals with you and design a thoughtful strategic plan to achieve your goals.

  • Report suspicious behaviour: if you suspect someone is trying to scam you, report it. You can report it directly on a social network or dating site, or you can also contact the police. And if the damage has already been done, don’t hesitate to take legal action. We at the Affordable Advocate will be happy to help you with that.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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