Online Love Scams Called ‘Pig Butchering’ Steal Cryptocurrency from Lonely Victims

Single men and women living in Western Nations are being targeted by sophisticated, organised online-crime gangs. These gangs are often managed from Mainland China, but operated by human trafficking victims held captive in Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and other South East Asian countries.

These online ‘pig butchering’ love scams began in China, but have gone International as the scamming syndicates refine and perfect their social engineering, banking, and cryptocurrency laundering processes.

Not always an online romance scam – Intellectual Discussions

In an interesting development, the scammers are also targeting married victims, not with romantic pretexts, but with deep and fulfilling intellectual discussions. It seems that wealthier, stable and prosperous men and women who live in the USA, Canada and other Western Nations, are targeted (often Chinese immigrants).

Challenges – Police Corruption

There are many challenges, for example, corrupt police in SE Asia will sometimes, given the opportunity, offer the managers of the scam two or three days to relocate (after we found them), in return for massive bribes. As such, we are very careful to ensure comprehensive, independent oversight and scrutiny is in place, before local police are involved.

Rexxfield’s investigations uncover the foreign scammers IP addresses, beginning at the slave boiler-rooms, and we work up to top management in Hong Kong or mainland China, and elsewhere. Then we hand the case to Western, Federal law enforcement for cross-border stings, in the hope that the extra scrutiny reduces corruption in the developing nation.

Setting the Captives Free

Scam victims are naturally very angry at the individuals who scammed them, but they are often victims too. Rexxfield approaches each case with several objectives:

    1. Recover the victims stolen assets
    2. Map out the entire scam syndicates hierarchy
    3. Work with anti-human trafficking organizations and law enforcement, to liberate the trafficking victims.
    4. Conviction of perpetrators

Oooops “Wrong Number” –  Using WhatsApp to initiate scam.

Many scams are initiated using a pretext, where the scammer sends a WhatApp message to a prospective victim, something like this:

“Hi Jane, is this still your number? I have more information for you on that Bitcoin platform…”

Whereas, there is no “Jane”. The new victim responds “Sorry wrong number”, and the charming scammer apologises and then charms the victim into keeping the conversation going.

The Grooming Process – “Pig Butchering”

The scam then involves grooming the victim over many weeks, into what seems to be a deep and trusting relationship, either romantic or platonic. Eventually, the scammer brings up how much money he has made in various investment schemes, and then persuades the victim to make a fraudulent investment. Some romance variations simply ask the victim to send money to help the scammer-boyfriend to solve some temporary financial challenge. This is bolstered with many impressive multi-million dollar contracts to show that it is just a temporary need.

Statistically, scammers more often target well-educated women, less often men, and the losses are staggering. At the time of writing, Rexxfield had just solved a USD2.1 Million case, and is closing on a second USD 1.2 Million case. There are many other cases each with hundreds of thousands in losses, like this USD 323,000 case that we recently handed over to a Federal Agency for “freeze and seize” recovery orders.

The name “pig butchering” or “sha zhu pan” in Chinese, the scammer grooms the victim over weeks or months, like fattening the pig before slaughter, which is when the victim invest money into the fake scheme.

Are you a victim of an Online Scam?

Free Help

If you are a victim of this type of scam, and you are financially distressed, our non-profit “Private International Cybercrime Disruption Organization” may be able to help you for free.

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If you can afford professional help, submit the details of your scam here, and we will respond promptly with investigation and recovery options.