What Is Pig-Butchering Scam? How Does It Work? And Warning Signs To Stay From Such Frauds

Learn how fraudsters lure victims into fake cryptocurrency investments and vanish with their money in this pig butchering scam

What Is Pig-Butchering Scam? How Does It Work? And Warning Signs To Stay From Such Frauds

A pig-butchering scam is a deceptive scheme that involves tricking individuals into gradually investing more money, usually in the form of cryptocurrency.

Here's all you need to know about the investment fraud.

What Is Pig-Butchering Scam?

The term is derived from the analogy of fattening a pig before slaughter. These scams have become rampant worldwide, causing significant financial losses for victims as the fraudsters vanish after accumulating substantial funds.

The pig-butchering scams involve criminals pretending to cultivate a romantic or personal relationship with victims through dating apps or social media. After gaining their trust in virtual conversations, the fraudsters manipulate them into investing in cryptocurrency investments. Once the criminals can extract as much digital currency as possible from the victims, they do the disappearing act.

How does a Pig-Butchering Scam work?

  • The pig-butchering scam starts with someone, called the "host", reaching out to possible targets online through social media, dating apps, or misleading text.

  • Once they find a potential victim, called the "pig", the host builds a fake friendship and convinces them to try cryptocurrency trading.

  • The host tricks the victim into using a phony trading app, making it seem like they are making money through fake trades.

  • As victims trust the host more, they are persuaded to invest more money, a tactic called "fattening the pig" before the scam unfolds.

  • When victims try to take out their money, the fake platform makes excuses or demands hefty fees, revealing the scam. Recovering funds is almost impossible due to blockchain transactions.

Zerodha's Nithin Kamath Talks About This Latest Scam, Shares Tips To Stay Protected

Warning Signs Of Pig-Butchering Scam

Here are some signs to look out for to avoid getting fleeced:

  • If you get a seemingly accidental message, perhaps claiming mistaken identity, it can be a bait

  • Look for inconsistencies: stock photos, vague bios, lack of mutual friends, or activity only on shady platforms.

  • Legitimate investments rarely guarantee anything. Be wary of sky-high promises.

  • They claim exclusive information unavailable to the public, often about crypto or some other alluring investments.

  • They push you towards an unfamiliar platform with no proper licensing or regulation.

  • They create a sense of urgency, pushing you to invest quickly before the "opportunity" vanishes.

  • Early "profits" are staged to build trust and encourage you to invest larger sums.

  • They play on your hopes, dreams, and fears to keep you invested. Don't let emotions cloud your judgment.

  • When you ask questions about withdrawals or platform details, they become evasive or unresponsive.

Zerodha's Nithin Kamath on Pig-Butchering Scam

In November last year, Zerodha CEO Nithin Kamath through a post on X highlighted the scale of pig butchering scams in India. He mentioned how these scams amount to as much as tens of thousands of crores. His post highlighted another sort of scam where many fall into the trap of international job offers from scammy companies. Once they are abroad, they are held captive and forced to scam Indians by building trust using social media platforms, typically using fake profiles of the opposite sex.

Through his post he also provided some tips to protect oneself from these pig-butchering scams.

  • Never reply to unknown messages on WhatsApp, social media platforms, and dating apps.

  • If someone asks you to download some new apps or open links, that’s a red flag.

  • These scams rely on exploiting your emotions like hopes, fears, dreams, and greed. Never react in a hurry.

  • Don’t panic. Most people fall for these scams because they react in a hurry.

  • When in doubt, go to the nearest police station or talk to a lawyer.

  • If someone promises something like a job or high returns or asks you for money, it’s a red flag.

  • Never share personally identifiable information like your Aadhaar, passport, or your financial information like bank details, investment details, etc.

  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.