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Don't Fall for the "Pig Butchering" Scam

Blog Post
2 min read
pink piggy bank with a shadow hand over it

It sounds disgusting – because it is. But the pig butchering scam is not what you think. It has nothing to do with real animals. However, the trail of destruction left behind is horrific. Victims are often identified by their severe heartache and gutted bank accounts.  

What is the Pig Butchering Scam?

According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Report 2021, this scam gets its name from the sneaky way it intends to “fatten victims’ investment accounts up before draining, much like a pig before slaughter”. Victims lost over $429 million in 2021 due to this scam’s ability to combine specific elements of romance scams and investment schemes. The pig butchering scam takes advantage of a person’s desire for relationship and financial security. 

How Does the Pig Butchering Scam Work?

This scam typically begins on a dating or singles app. Another user “accidentally” sends you an in-app message about a random topic. The wording appears to be a continuation of a prior conversation or the start of a new one intended for someone they already know well. When you alert the sender that the message was sent to the wrong person, the scammer is ready to move to the scheme’s next phase.

Further communication is strategically designed to build rapport so you will trust this online stranger with your money. While they may try to move the conversation off of the dating app, they rarely agree to a video or phone conversation. Regardless of the method of communication, these crooks always bring the conversation back to investing with the goal of convincing you to make large investments using fake cryptocurrency apps.

Since these fraudsters are looking for a big payday, they will take their time to woo you into believing their lies. Your new online companion, love interest, or best friend is willing to wait months to ensure you feel confident they have your best interest at heart. As master manipulators, pig butchering scammers let you set the tone for the relationship and will alter their communication to fit. If you ask common sense questions or refuse to give them what they want, they will threaten to end the relationship.

Protect Yourself from a Pig Butchering Scam

Keep your heart and your finances intact by using these tips:

  • Speak with a friend or family member about your new online connection
  • Be wary of anyone who guarantees risk-free cryptocurrency investment opportunities
  • Never share financial data with anyone you meet online, even if they claim you can make loads of money in cryptocurrency
  • Understand that fraudsters use various tactics to convince you to open your crypto wallet or bank account, including doctored screenshots of high investment account balances or completed trades with significant returns

What if You Suspect a Pig Butchering Scam?

If you believe the pig butchering scam is at work, stop communicating with the suspected scammer and contact SAFE immediately at 1-800-763-8600 Option 2#. After that, be sure to report the suspicious profile to the dating app platform. You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and your state attorney general’s office. These agencies work to put a stop to a variety of consumer-related crimes.