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“Pig Fighting” – Krypto’s version of love cheating

Romance scams, creating fake profiles on dating apps to swindle money from victims, has made its way into the crypto world.

One of these has the rather unflattering term “pig slaughter” because the victim is “fattened” through flattery and praise and then tricked into sending some crypto and then more into a fraudulent investment scheme. The cybercriminal eventually pulls the plug and disappears, “butchering” the victim’s finances.

The scam usually occurs on dating sites and apps and targets the lonely and emotionally vulnerable. It can also be found on social media sites.

According to an announcement by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), hog slaughter began in China in 2019. It’s now “frighteningly popular” in the US, law enforcement says, with at least $439 million (R7.1 billion) who have been cheated by slaughtering pigs in 2021.

The cybercriminal ring responsible for the recent spike in cases is using translation software to target Western victims.

A San Francisco man lost $1.2 million (R19.4 million) – 30 years’ savings, including his daughter’s education fund – after being targeted by a scammer who exploited his vulnerability after losing his father .

Cases of hog slaughtering in California have tripled this year, reports ABC7 News, and appear to be specifically targeting the Asian community.

In January 2021, Interpol issued a Purple Notice — a type of informational letter describing criminal “modes operandi, procedures, objects, devices, or hiding places” — detailing how cybercriminals are targeting emotionally vulnerable individuals on dating sites.

SA’s stunning catfishing losses, the kissing cousin of romance scams

Almost synonymous with love cheating is “catfishing,” the act of pretending to be someone else online in order to commit fraud. The term is broader than love cheating or pig slaughter as it can also include impersonating a friend or family member.

A study by Techshielder, based on 2020 data, revealed the following alarming facts about South Africa’s propensity to fall victim to this type of scam:

  • South Africa is one of the 20 countries with the highest likelihood of being a victim of catfishing scams;
  • The average financial loss per defrauded person in SA is a staggering £35,433 (R717,811), the second highest in the world; and
  • SA suffered the world’s seventh-highest total losses in 2020 – £6.7 million (R136.4 million).

Fake investment apps facilitate theft

A Silicon Valley software developer identified as “R” lost $1.3 million (R21 million) after a scammer named Zhang approached her on LinkedIn, reports ABC7 News.

Zhang proposed a fake trading app that looked legit and convinced her to deposit three installments of $65,000 into the trading app. The app soon revealed that “R” appeared to have made a 20% return. So she drained her retirement account – a whopping $900,000 (14.6 million rand) – followed by another $400,000 (6.5 million rand) she had borrowed from her husband. And then promptly lost everything.

Using legitimate looking apps is another problem faced by the FBI. According to an FBI alert issued in July, 244 victims were identified who were scammed out of $42.7 million (R692 million) by using fake cryptocurrency investment apps.

In one heist, cybercriminals convinced 28 investors to download an app that used the logo and name of a real US financial institution and then deposit crypto into it.

When 13 of the 28 investors tried to withdraw their money, they received an email saying they had to pay taxes before they could do so. Even after paying the alleged tax, the victims still couldn’t withdraw their money.

In total, they were pushed out of $3.7 million (60 million rand).

A second scam operated under the fictional company name YiBit. It followed the same pattern. The victims deposited cryptocurrency into the app, but when they tried to withdraw their funds, they were asked to pay taxes. Ultimately, they were unable to withdraw their money.

Pork Shop, a step-by-step guide

An in-depth analysis of the pig slaughter by blockchain analytics firm Elliptic explains how the scam typically works.

The connection with the victim is usually maintained for weeks or months before the topic of crypto is raised.

The approach is not always entirely romantic. Sometimes it involves “sexploitation” – a practice where the cybercriminal threatens to reveal sensitive photos or embarrassing details of a sexual nature, such as B. suggestive text messages, if a certain amount of crypto is not transmitted.

But more often than not, it’s the promise of a “great opportunity” that persuades victims to start the scam.

The blog reiterates the trend of scammers targeting people in or from Asia, and links to an 80-page script said to be used by pig butchers to scam their victims.

The screenplay bears the ominous title “Latest Strategy for Killing Pigs”.

This is how you stay safe

Elliptic analysis suggests that 27% of dating profiles are fake and that “stacks of photos that can be used in romance scams” can be snagged on the dark web for as little as $20 (R324).

It advises dating app users to be wary of people who propose love too early in the relationship or who introduce cryptocurrency and then promise to be a mentor in the process.

Scammers also promote the idea of ​​creating wealth and following your dreams, urging victims to dream big and strive for bigger ones.

Scammers often avoid video or voice calls.

The FBI warns investors to beware of unsolicited requests to download investment apps and to verify that the company behind an app actually exists.

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R. Paulo Delgado is a crypto writer with an eye for the bizarre and human stories behind the ever-intriguing leaps and pitfalls of this new asset class.

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