The Pig-Butchering Scam
The Pig-Butchering Scam is also known as "Sha Zhu Pan (殺豬盤)". There are many forms of it including: Crypto Romance Scam, CryptoRom, Hybrid Investment Romance Scam, Romance Baiting, Crypto Investing, etc.
It works by targeting individuals on dating apps and social media sites where the victims are patiently groomed over weeks to become interested in investing in cryptocurrency, forex, gold, etc. In other cases, techno savvy crypto enthusiasts are targeted as a quick road to riches. Most importantly, the scammers do not ask for money directly, but instead introduce victims to a sham investment website or app where victims feel safe depositing funds. Generally the person introducing the victim to the website or app has built trust over many weeks and assuages and concerns that a victim may have. The scammers conspire with "customer service", who then bully victims into remitting increasingly large amounts of money using a series of psychological techniques and ruses on the website/app they control. In some cases they will threaten a lawsuit, in other cases they threaten to tell important people in your life and in others they threaten to damage the victims credit rating. All of these tactics are designed to make the victim feel obligated to remit more funds.
How the scam works
The scammer meets the victim on either a dating site or social media site will be an Asian man or woman.
- Attractive / Good Looking
- Pretend to be wealthy or an investor
- Invests in cryptocurrency, forex or gold as a hobby
- Donates some of their monthly profits to charity
- Lives in China, the victims country or some place overseas
- Loves discussing market movements
- Sometimes shares loads of photos, selfles, food
- Always makes excuses why they can’t video chat (past traumas, don’t let the wife see them, camera broken on phone, etc.)
- Almost always single and looking for a relationship
- Always too busy to meet but promises always to meet the victim soon
Grooming or Raising
This is the stage the scammer spends alot of their time gaining the victims trust and forming the relationship so that they can go in for the kill later.
Has a habit of greeting you. Sometimes every morning and every night
If it’s romance that the victim is looking for, the scammer confesses their love within 1-2 weeks and calls them wife, baby, pet names, etc.
Very open about their own finances (assets are always much bigger than yours)
Talks a lot about chance and fate
The scammer wants to help the victim achieve their goals and dreams
Almost always the scammer will make it seem that the victim is becoming part of an exclusive club and the victim generally keeps whatever the scammer and the victim are doing until the scammer decides the time is right to tell others. At this time, the victim has completely bought into the scam and people the victims know will have a hard time convincing them otherwise.
If it’s romance the victim is looking for, the scammer wants to exchange naughty pictures with you
Invites you to a new third-party website or app they use to invest, or a broker
Customer service is on third-party website or on WhatsApp, responsive 24/7
Can lend you money, a demo account, or their account to try first
If the victim is not familiar with crypto, the scammer will coach the victim to buy crypto on a legitimate exchange such as Binance, Huobi, Bitfinex, etc.
The scammer will coach the victim to send crypto or wire funds into the platform that they lured the victim to
Scammers are very good teachers! They always want to help the victim learn the platform and learn to trade so that they feel like there is value in what is going on
- A trading schedule is setup so that the scammer and the victim can trade and further build the relationship. Trading never lasts long.
After depositing real money, the victim is able to withdraw profits (sometimes as much as $50,000)
May suggest the victim invite friends and family to the opportunity
When things start to go sideways there is tremendous pressure and pain for the victim to endure. They are repeatedly bullied to remit funds or they risk losing everything that is on the platform (including what was remitted)!
The victim is encouraged to remit large amounts by enticing them with some sort of giveaway such as free USDT, a free vacation, etc. These are almost always time limited to convey a sense of urgency
In many cases a victim is not able to meet the minimum commitment. A smart scammer realizes this and ether offers or agrees to help the victim make the minimum. The scammer or the platform will loan the victim money to keep things going. The scammer sends the money through the platform.
In many cases, after $5,000 – $10,000, victims can no longer withdraw because extra of verification fees, taxes, etc. are needed. In other cases, victims trigger an audit mechanism and the platform demands a % of the total amount of funds in the account in order to confirm everything is working properly. The platform will always promise to restore full trading and withdrawal activities once the penalty has been paid
The victim may suddenly lose a lot of funds in the account in one day due to a bad trade or investment decision that the scammer has devised.
In many cases, the scammers will blame and guilt victims when the victim complains about the money they have lost or are about to lose. The scammer AND the customer service will berate, shame, threaten, etc.
The scammer and “customer service” may claim that their investments are also stuck but assure you that in their experience, the platform will allow withdrawals after paying
Lending to victims is a common practice to tie the victim to them in some form of contract. Any loan comes again through the platform, never externally.
Victims are heavily coached into borrowing from family/friends, selling assets/home/car, or getting loans (saying it is for home improvement, not for investment). The scammer assures the victims that the loans will be paid back in no time.
If the victim declines these tactics, and depending on the scam, they may threaten to release sensitive pictures the victim may have sent onto the Internet
When things are all over, the victim will be locked out of their account, the scammer will stop communicating with them, etc.
The victim will be told they must remit new funds to to money being owed for things such as withdrawal fees, taxes fee, security fee, verification fee, audit fee, etc.)
If they lent you money, they tell the victim that nothing will be sent back to the victim until they are repaid
When the victim confronts the scammer and blows the whistle, the scammer will not only deny being a scammer but also that they are a victim
In extreme cases they may even call the victim the scammer and try to turn the tables!
The scammer blocks you and the platform will lock you out of your account
The scammer’s conspired “Customer Service” may even accuse you of malicious behaviour and threaten legal action against you. This is nonsense of course, they are trying to intimidate the victim into remitting additional funds