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The Pig Butchering Crypto Scam: What You Need to Know

June 14, 2024

In recent years, pig butchering scams have emerged as a significant threat to cryptocurrency investors. Originating from Southeast Asia, these fraudulent schemes involve sophisticated tactics to lure and convince victims to send large sums of money to a cryptocurrency exchange, often leading to significant financial losses.

With this MystNodes article, our team aims to educate you about the risks posed by investment fraud through pig butchering scams and provide strategies for protecting crypto investments.

Understanding Pig Butchering Crypto Scams

Here's everything you should know about this cryptocurrency scam.

What is a Pig Butchering Crypto Scam?

A pig butchering scam is a cryptocurrency scam in which scammers create a fake profile on social media, build trust with unsuspecting victims by talking to them regularly, and convince victims to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraudulent cryptocurrency schemes.

The term "pig butchering" refers to the methodical process of "fattening" the victim before "butchering" them by stealing their funds.

How Pig Butchering Scams Operate

Scammers use fake profiles on dating apps, social media, and even business email compromise schemes to establish relationships with their targets. This established relationship builds trust and tends to add legitimacy to your pen pal's offer to invest your money.

They lure victims with promises of high returns from cryptocurrency investments and guide them through the process of setting up accounts and transferring money. If one potential victim falls through or the profile gets banned, they create new identities and start the scheme again.

Recognising the Signs of a Pig Butchering Scam

Here are the red flags that you should look out for:

  • Too Good to Be True Investment Opportunities: Promises of guaranteed high returns with little to no risk.
  • Pressure to Invest Quickly: Scammers urge victims to send money quickly to take advantage of a "limited-time" opportunity before most people get to it.
  • Unsolicited Contact: Strangers reaching out with investment advice or opportunities, especially from a phone number of accounts you don't recognise.

Scammers often use group chats to create a sense of legitimacy and urgency. They may also employ romance scam tactics, building personal relationships to gain trust before introducing the fraudulent investment opportunity.

Crypto Scammers

How Pig Butchering Scams Target Crypto Investors

Here's what you should know about how a scammer targets their next victim.

Social Engineering Techniques

Scammers leverage social engineering to manipulate victims emotionally and psychologically. They build trust over a short period, often sharing convincing stories and testimonials from supposed "successful" investors or promising that the scammer made millions of dollars themselves.

The Role of Digital Payment Platforms

Victims are often instructed to use specific cryptocurrency wallets or exchanges to deposit and withdraw funds. Scammers may also provide detailed instructions on how to avoid detection by law enforcement.

Protecting Yourself from Pig Butchering Scams

Here are just a few of the best practices for securing your crypto investments:

  • Verify the Legitimacy of Investment Opportunities: Always conduct thorough research and verify the credentials of any investment opportunity.
  • Be Skeptical of Unsolicited Offers: Be cautious of strangers offering investment advice or opportunities, primarily through dating apps and social media.

Tools and Resources for Detecting Scams

Use tools such as cryptocurrency scam alert websites, blockchain explorers, and secure communication platforms to verify the legitimacy of transactions and investment opportunities.

Reporting and Responding to Pig Butchering Scams

  • How to Report a Scam: Report any suspected pig butchering scam to local authorities and relevant cryptocurrency exchanges. Many exchanges have dedicated teams to handle fraud investigations, making it easier to get in touch with the authorities.
  • Legal Recourse and Recovery Options: While recovering stolen funds from scammers can be challenging, victims of the pig butchering scheme should report the scam to law enforcement and seek legal advice. Some organizations specialize in helping victims of cryptocurrency scams.

The Human Cost of Pig Butchering Scams

These scams can lead to significant financial losses and emotional distress. In some cases, potential victims may lose all the money in their accounts, including the tens of billions.

The Role of Human Trafficking

Some investment scams involve human trafficking, with criminals forcing victims to participate in the scam. These human trafficking victims are often coerced into collecting money and luring new victims.

This usually involves people from Southeast Asia and other countries moving abroad for what seems to be their new dream job. However, once they reach their destination, they find themselves victims, forced to work for scammers to scam and drain the funds of innocent people.

Sarah Thompson and the Fraudulent Cryptocurrency Scheme

Sarah Thompson, a 32-year-old teacher from Ohio, was relatively new to the world of cryptocurrency. Interested in diversifying her savings, she started exploring investment opportunities. She had heard of the high returns some people claimed to have made with cryptocurrency and decided to learn more.

How the Scam Began

Sarah's journey into the scam began when she joined an online cryptocurrency group on social media. She was quickly approached by a friendly and knowledgeable individual named "Alex," who seemed to have substantial experience in crypto investments. Alex offered to help Sarah navigate the complexities of the crypto market.

Building Trust

Over several weeks, Alex and Sarah exchanged messages almost daily. Alex shared seemingly legitimate success stories, screenshots of profitable trades, and testimonials from supposedly satisfied investors. He also provided her with detailed advice on setting up a cryptocurrency wallet and using digital payment platforms.

The Hook

After building a rapport, Alex introduced Sarah to an "exclusive" opportunity to invest. He claimed it was a limited-time offer that could yield returns of up to 20% per month. Skeptical but intrigued, Sarah was cautious at first. However, Alex's persistent reassurance and the fear of missing out on a lucrative deal convinced her to invest.

Sarah's initial investment was a simple $1,000, which was money that she had saved for emergencies. Over the next few weeks, she saw what appeared to be impressive returns in her account balance. Encouraged by these apparent gains and Alex's continuous support, she decided to invest more, eventually putting in a total of $10,000.

The Realisation & The Aftermath

One day, when Sarah attempted to withdraw some funds, she found that her account was locked. Alex became evasive, providing various technical excuses and urging her to be patient. As days turned into weeks, Sarah realized she had been scammed. Alex disappeared, and the social media profiles he used were deleted.

Sarah reported the scam to local authorities and the cryptocurrency exchange she used. Despite the ongoing investigation, the chances of recovering her funds were slim. She faced significant financial stress and emotional turmoil, having lost a substantial portion of her savings.

Lessons Learned

Sarah's experience highlights several key lessons:

  • Be Skeptical of Unsolicited Offers: Investment opportunities that come from unsolicited contacts, especially those that promise high returns with low risk, are often scams.
  • Verify the Source: Always research and verify the credentials of anyone offering investment advice. Look for reviews and feedback from multiple sources.
  • Identifying the Signs: Pressure to invest quickly, guarantees of high returns, and reluctance to allow withdrawals are significant warning signs.
  • Educate Yourself: Before investing in cryptocurrency or any other asset, take the time to educate yourself about the market and the common types of scams.

Sarah's story is a cautionary tale for anyone considering cryptocurrency investments. While the potential for profit exists, the market is also rife with fraud.

By staying informed and cautious, regular people can protect themselves from becoming victims of investment fraud and other fraudulent schemes.

Protect Yourself From Scammers

Moving Forward: Protecting the Crypto Community

  • Continuous Education and Vigilance: Staying informed about the latest scam tactics and educating others in the crypto community is crucial. Awareness is the first line of defense against pig butchering scams.
  • Sharing Knowledge and Resources: Encourage open communication within the crypto community. Share experiences, warning signs, and tips for avoiding scams to protect others from becoming the next victims.


Pig butchering scams are a growing threat in the cryptocurrency world. By being aware of this scheme and understanding how they operate, and recognising the red flags, potential victims can protect themselves and their cryptocurrency wallet.

Continuous vigilance, education, and community support are essential in combating these fraudulent schemes and ensuring a safer crypto environment for everyone. If you want to learn more about this topic, check out this episode of the show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver!

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

Meet Gintarė, the crypto-savvy wordsmith weaving digital tales! With a knack for turning technical jargon into captivating narratives, she's the maestro of the keyboard in the cyber realm. From decoding the complexities of blockchain to uncovering the latest passive income gems, Gintarė is your guide through the thrilling world of tech. With her keen eye for cybersecurity, she's not just a copywriter – she's your crypto confidante, making the digital frontier feel like home.

Frequently asked

What Is the Pig Token Scam?

The pig token scam is a type of fraudulent cryptocurrency scheme where scammers create a fake cryptocurrency, or "pig token," to lure victims into investing. They convince victims to buy the token, only to later disappear with the funds.

Was the Pig Butchering Scam Caught?

While some individuals and groups behind pig butchering scams have been caught by law enforcement, these schemes are often operated by organized networks, making complete eradication challenging. Continuous vigilance and reporting by victims can aid in catching more scammers.

What Is Pig Butchering the Super Scam?

Pig butchering, referred to as the "super scam," involves elaborate schemes where scammers build extensive trust with their victims over time, convincing them to make substantial investments. This super scam combines elements of romance scams, business email compromise, and investment fraud to maximize the stolen funds.

How Do I Report Pig Butchering Crypto Scams?

To report a pig butchering crypto scam, contact local law enforcement and provide detailed information about the scam. Additionally, the scam should be reported to relevant cryptocurrency exchanges and online platforms where the scam occurred to aid in investigations and prevent further victimization.