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By: AgFed Credit Union

Welcome to AgFed Credit Union's MoneyDig blog! 

Get confident about your personal finances with a number of articles, tips, advice and more.


All You Need to Know About Pig-Butchering Scams

 May 17, 2024
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You may have received a text or chat message in recent months about an attractive-looking investment opportunity. The message may have seemed to be sent mistakenly, but it’s all too real. In fact, it’s likely a pig-butchering scam. 

Let’s take a look at these prevalent scams and how you can avoid falling victim. 

What is a pig-butchering scam?

“Pig butchering” refers to the practice of fattening up a hog before slaughter. This scam, which originated in China, has been spreading around the world since COVID. 

In a pig-butchering scam, a fraudster creates a fake online persona, usually accompanied by an attractive photo and a luxurious lifestyle that is showcased in more photos to flesh out their story. Then they’ll initiate contact with a target on dating or other social media platforms, pretending to have reached out by mistake. Somehow, they’ll segue from there into a chat about the target’s life, family, work and more. To make themselves sound more believable, the scammer will invent details about their own life. They’ll use this to create a real rapport with the target until they’re actual friends, albeit with only a remote connection. 

Next, the scammer will start dropping hints about a fabulous investment opportunity. They’ll brag about their own success with this investment, sometimes even sharing screenshots of an alleged brokerage account with handsome earnings. They’ll try persuading the victim to invest in this “opportunity” as well, building on their growing relationship, until the victim agrees to join in the supposed opportunity.

Once the victim agrees to go along with the investment, the scammer will offer to help them with the investing process. They may explain exactly how to wire money to a crypto wallet and, ultimately, to a bogus brokerage. Sometimes, they’ll recommend that the victim starts with a modest investment, which will soon show a (fabricated) gain. They may even allow the victim to withdraw some funds, which will convince the victim that the investment is genuine. 

Here’s where things get really ugly. Once the faux trust has been established, and the pig has been good and fattened, the scammer will persuade the victim to invest heavily in this “stock”. The victim, sure it is a legitimate opportunity that will only show gains, is more than happy to do so. They will even sometimes pursue mortgaging their house to get in on this investment. Other victims have liquidated their retirement savings or taken out loans. The scammer will continue to put pressure on the victim, watching gleefully as they pour more and more of their savings into the alleged investment.

When the victim has sunk a significant amount of money into the investment, the scammer will suddenly disappear, leaving the victim with a useless “investment” and no way to recover their funds. 

Red flags

Watch out for these red flags that can alert you to a possible pig-butchering scam:

  • An interaction that happens by “mistake” morphs into a real relationship, often a romantic one.
  • You’re offered the opportunity to get in on an investment that seems too good to be true. 
  • You’re urged to act quickly to take advantage of an investing opportunity.
  • You’re asked to invest via crypto wallet or an investment app. 
  • An investment opportunity has inconsistent or vague details.
  • You find it difficult or impossible to cash in on your larger “investments.”

Stay safe

Don’t get butchered! Follow these tips to stay safe.

First, thoroughly research every investment opportunity before dropping any of your funds in it. Next, only use a registered and secure investment platform or app. Stay away from investments that guarantee quick, high returns and press you to act quickly. Be wary of any strangers who’ve contacted you “by mistake” and insist on pursuing the relationship. As with any scenario, never share your sensitive information with an unverified contact. 

If you believe you’ve been targeted by a pig-butchering scam, alert the FTC and your local law enforcement agencies. Do not engage with the scammer and be sure to block their number and/or email address from your devices. Finally, let your friends know the scam is happening in your circle. 

Stay safe!