A new investment scam has been exposed where fraudsters use romance to lure people into bogus investments. In this Chinese-origin Pig Butchering crypto scam, con artists groom the victims for months to gain trust.
“These are not fast scams either, these are insidious psychological scams, where victims are groomed for months,” said the non-profit Global Anti-Scam Organisation (Gaso), a volunteer-led advocacy group trying to save people from such relationship investment scams.
What Is a Pig Butchering Scam?
As the name suggests, it is similar to fattening the pig before slaughtering. The scam first started in China in 2016. Perpetrators themselves gave it the name ‘sha zhu pan’ which means to fatten a pig before slaughtering it.
In this scam, con artists on dating apps and social media groom targets for weeks to get them interested in investing in cryptocurrency, forex, gold, and other commodities.
The scammers don’t ask for money directly. Instead, they drive the victim to an investment website that is controlled by them and is bogus.
“These are not lone wolves, it is a huge production, where there are people scouring social media platforms for their next victim; people on the IT side managing investments, and others posing as customer service officers for these fake platforms,” a spokesperson at GASO said.
There is no official data related to the scam busted in Singapore to the scam. But a report stated that professionals, aged 30-40, lost SGD10.7 million, citing GASO stats.
Amid the victims, over 70% were women aged between 25 and 40 years old. Predominantly, all the victims were highly educated, approximately 90 % of them had Bachelor’s degrees.
As per the report based on 400 victims surveyed by the organization from North America, Europe, Taiwan and Southeast Asia, the average loss per person was estimated to be USD 134,940.
People in Singapore have lost more money to investment frauds in comparison to any other ruse in the last three years. Victims have lost SGD190.9 million in 2021 which is over five times the SGD36.9 million in 2019.
About Global Anti-Scam Organization (GASO)
GASO was created in June 2021 after victims of the Pig Butchering scam came together to help others. Currently, there are 60 members from different parts of the world including Europe, the United States, Australia and New Zealand.
Those 60 volunteers are among the 900 victims worldwide who had reached out to GASO for help. They have saved over 5,000 people in various countries from losing their hard-earned money.
A 34-year-old digital content creator after losing $80,000 to the devious scammer turned her agony into strength and developed an anti-scam website to warn and help other victims.