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In the latest win against cryptocurrency cyber criminals, the U.S. Department of Justice announced the seizure of seven domains involved in a scam known as “pig butchering”. The move comes a month after the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) issued an alert pig butchering scams.
The FBI described the scam campaign as a “tried-and-true, meticulously planned, and contact-intensive method of fattening up the prey before slaughter,” hence “pig butchering.”
According to a Michigan state government advisory, the scam originated in Southeast Asia and later moved on to other regions. The scam begins using dating apps and social media sites as a point of contact and later moves to crypto investments.
The individuals and groups booked under the present case targeted five victims in the United States using the seven domains condemned by the authorities. The domains were a spoofed version of the Singapore International Monetary Exchange. These seven domains. targeted users who needed to be more investment-savvy and were pursued using sweet talks into investing in fraudulent websites Here is a quick breakdown of the scam and how it works.
Cryptocurrency Pig Butchering explained
Pig butchering involves dating apps used as the initial point of contact between the scammer and the targets. The scammers also use random text messages masquerading as a wrong number to initiate a conversation, which often leads to relationships with the victim — slowly gaining their trust and setting the stage for the scam.
Once entirely mesmerized by the scammer’s charm, the target is lured into investing in fake cryptocurrency websites, which scammers later transfers to their accounts.
“The fake websites/apps allow the victims to track their investments and give the impression they are growing exponentially. When the victims attempt to cash out their investments, they are told they need to pay income taxes or additional fees, causing them to lose additional funds. The victims are unable to retrieve their purported investments and often lose contact with the fraudsters, either due to the closing of the fraudulent website or the fraudster ceases contact with the victim,” said the FBI warning.
A total of seven such domains were used to dupe the victim’s funds and were immediately transferred through private wallets and swapping services to remove any evidence of contact. As per reports, the pig butchering scam caused a total of $10 million loss to the victims before the U.S. authorities took the initiative to catch these scammers.
DoJ offers to help Pig Butchering scam victims
The idea behind the scam was highly dependent on human relationships and trust. Once the victim became comfortable with the scammer, they offered the idea of making a “business investment” in crypto. On completing the fake investment, the scammer fled the scene, taking all the money with them.
The authorities and U.S. Criminal Investigative Division advised victims of the “Pig Butchering” scam to contact CryptoFraud@SecretService.gov or IC3.gov to file a report.
“Based on the information provided, you may be contacted by the United States Secret Service or other law enforcement entity and asked to provide additional information. This office cannot act as your attorney or provide you with legal advice. However, you may seek the advice of an attorney with respect to this or other related legal matters”, announced the Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Virginia.