Pig Butchering Scams: Uncovering The Dark Web

Today, let’s understand the dark side of online connections with the rise of pig butchering scams. This article exposes the tactics, victim demographics, and staggering financial losses associated with pig butchering scams, urging caution in the face of this growing global threat.

Most people might have recently exchanged text or chat messages with strangers who have an attractive profile photo.

It might start with a simple “Hi” or what appears to be humorous confusion about why this person has your number on his/her phone book.

However, the truth is that these messages are usually anything but accidents and they are designed to guide you from a cordial conversation to online investments and finally see your money disappear into the fraudster’s account.

This fraud is often called a romance scam, but it is also referred to as a pig butchering scam since it combines crypto currency fraud, investment schemes, and romance scams.

This particular scam originated in Southeast Asia and got its name from the Chinese phrase, which means pig butchering. The name pig butchering means a deceitful act where fraudsters convince their unsuspecting victim—the “pig”—into giving money with the hope of getting high returns.

To do this, the conman creates a fake account and approaches potential victims through apps such as Tinder or WhatsApp. The aim of this person is to gain trust from that particular victim by having friendly chats so that he/she can be “their friend” or even “lover.”

By the way, if you have been a victim of pig butchering scams, we offer pig butchering scams recovery services.

You can reach out to experts directly here:

How do such crimes as pig butchering scams happen?

A text message starts it all. It can come via social media platforms, messaging apps like WhatsApp or even dating apps like Tinder.

Typically, the message would look like this was meant for another person and they just got your number by mistake, something like “Hi John, shall we meet tomorrow?” But even when you tell them you’re not who they believe you are, they still text you in an attempt to establish a connection.

Then comes the second phase of the scam.

Trust building is all that goes on all this time. They will play fake friends for weeks or even months to make you feel closer to them.

Afterwards, they begin mentioning their riches subtly – luxurious cars, exclusive holidays, and private jets, thanks to a certain unheard-of investment application. Maybe you also need to invest in digital money? Additionally, they will give some investment tips.

Fraudsters begin their third scheme, which is “the fattening up.” Where they will offer a particular trading platform, she and he could attempt it together.

The first thing that scammers do is offer making minimal investments. They refund your investments on the spot.

To make sure that these platforms are legitimate, the scammer might ask you to withdraw some money. However, all these are crypto currency trading platforms for fraudsters only.

They will then persuade you to invest more and more money when they gain your trust.

When you decide to stop trading or change your mind after investing thousands of dollars, they will tell you that there are huge fees for such transactions. This is “the slaughter.” The moment the intended level of investment from the victim is secured, the scammers pull out and disappear.

Victim demographics

Pig butchering scams have been going around the world.

Although this scam originated in China, it quickly spread to other countries in Southeast Asia. And so, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Cambodia are at the center of these scams. After all, China’s government is responding by intensifying efforts to reduce pig butchering scams within their country.

Pig butchering had caught the attention of criminal organizations. They turned it into a “mass production” scheme, perfected scripts that made victims trust their scammers and “outsourced” scamming itself.

Many people who do scams are actually also desperate—they are debtors themselves who have been subject to violence or even human trafficking. People respond to deceitful job advertisements only to find themselves working for a group involved in organized crime.

Statistics of the Rise of Pig Butchering Scams

To give some perspective, just in the last few months, one of the biggest cryptocurrency exchanges, Binance, released data showing a significant increase in the number of reports on swindling scams related to pig butchering. This is an increase of 100.5%, which happened between 2022 and 2023, with one month still remaining for this year.

The FBI warned about this type of investment scam in October 2022.

For example, the seven domains that were caught by the Justice Department in November were running pig butchering schemes that had robbed more than $10 million from their victims.

According to CBS News, the FBI estimates that just last year alone, sophisticated scammers overseas managed to defraud victims out of over $3.3 billion, with many victims too ashamed to report their losses.

Identity theft, making friends through social media platforms and later pushing them to invest in fake crypto accounts are typical rip-offs.

The 2022 IC3 report shows that these scams mainly target individuals aged 30 to 49. This reveals that these scammers target individuals who have higher financial security.

Another group that may be a target of pig-butchering scams is people about to retire who have many savings and want to invest them in order to have financial security in their old age.

There is the possibility that the fraudsters will use this sense of urgency and vulnerability against their victims with the aim of luring them to invest in their scams.

Investment fraud victim’s losses, as per the IC3 report, amount to $3.31 billion, which is much higher than other types of scams. This includes complaints about cryptocurrency investment fraud, which reached $2.57 billion in 2021 alone.

Common Strategies Utilized

Just like other scams, watch out for oversized and quick gains. Also, you should not deal in cryptocurrencies with anyone asking for a front payment. Besides, you should avoid connecting online dating to any investment advice from somebody you have not seen personally.

There are some things that you can do to protect yourself when someone approaches you with a pig butchering crypto scam.

  1. A “wrong number” message: The scammers target their victims through social media or dating apps. At the same time, they send “mistaken” messages to you. Do not respond to any message from an unfamiliar person; rather, block or report the sender.
  2. Their subject matter is money: They say the amount of money they have and how you can also make it plus some more if you invest in cryptocurrency wisely.
  3. The great investment platform they know about, which you haven’t heard of. Or the URL mentioned as the official website of some platform does not match its real name.
  4. They lure with expensive presents. They say that one day they will give them a present beyond their wildest dreams or send them on a two-week trip all inclusive to the Maldives.
  5. When someone promises too much too fast, it only makes sense to suspect something wrong and immediately block such people.
  6. You had never met them before. If this person changes the subject and refuses to make a video call, then it is very clear that he/she is using a fake profile to chat with you.
  7. The victim will be persuaded by the scammer, who will encourage them to download an investment app to trade with. The initial stage allows for small withdrawals. As withdrawal requests increase, the platform may charge taxes or fees and freeze the account, suggesting that the victim must settle these charges if they want their account back.

So, it is important to be very cautious when you choose one of these websites / applications. Verify this by checking if the URL in question is a verified one.


Pig butchering frauds are not done by amateurs. Because they can earn enormous sums of money from it, this is organized crime that is well equipped.

To do this kind of work, the operations have technical resources for spoofing websites/apps as well as rooms full of people sending messages bought on darkweb lists.

Most of these schemes are underpinned by human trafficking to facilitate their various operations, whereby they are promised decently paying jobs once outside their countries of origin, only to be beaten into submission until they become willing slaves. It is so disheartening.