What’s Pig Butchering? Here are Answers to 10 FAQs

Pig butchering image with messaging boxes

You’ve probably heard the term pig butchering in the news. Pig butchering is a way that cybercriminals are stealing thousands of dollars from victims.

What is pig butchering? Here are answers to 10 frequently asked questions about pig butchering.

1. How does pig butchering work?

Scammers contact victims over a public profile, like a social media or dating app. They slowly gain victims’ trust over weeks or months in order to convince the victim to “invest” in a cryptocurrency or similar platform. After making the investment, victims realize there were never any legitimate investments and their money is gone.

The bigger picture is that pig butchering is a large, organized effort to scam money from individuals. The scammers running fake accounts can be victims themselves. Larger cybercrime organizations coerce people into running these scams using various methods, like fake international job offers.

2. Why is it called pig butchering?

These scams are called pig butchering, because they are similar to leading a pig to slaughter. Scammers “fatten up” victims then bleed them dry of their money.

3. How do scammers use social apps for pig butchering?

Scammers use a fake identity to contact victims through dating or social media apps, text messages, and phone calls. They often pretend to have misdialed or contacted the wrong person but then attempt to build rapport with the victim.

4. How do scammers win victims’ trust?

Scammers try to engage victims in chats and tailor their fake identities to better relate to the victim. They may even send photos to the victim. They then use the information they learn to manipulate the victim into trusting them to make an investment.

5. How do scammers trick victims into believing they are legitimate?

The scammers often create investment platforms or apps that display gains over time and appear perfectly legitimate and functional until a victim attempts to withdraw from the account.

6. How do scammers take victims’ money?

Scammers help victims’ make the investment by explaining how to wire money to the fake investment platform or app. Scammers may encourage victims to start with a small investment then invest more money over time as they see the fake gains.

7. How much money do victims lose?

Victims can lose hundreds of thousands of dollars. Unfortunately, victims not only drain their personal savings, but often are convinced to borrow money from other sources to make more significant investments. Once the scammer has wiped out the victim’s accounts, they suddenly end communications. Victims eventually realize they have been scammed.

8. How can you recognize a scammer?

A scammer uses a fake profile, so make sure you know everyone you’re interacting with on social media apps. For dating apps, try to confirm the person’s identity. If a potential admirer begins talking about investments, end the relationship immediately. Don’t take phone calls or return text messages from numbers you don’t recognize.

9. What should you do if you’ve been scammed?

If you have been scammed, report the scam to your bank and law enforcement. It’s essential to make the report as quickly as possible so your bank can reverse the transactions and law enforcement can trace the stolen funds.

10. Where can you find more information?

Read the FBI’s warning about pig butchering and other types of scams.

Stay cyberaware with OneNet’s 10 cybersecurity resolutions for 2024.

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