The US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on Monday the seizure of seven domains linked to “pig butchering” cryptocurrency scams.
In some ways, these scams follow the same playbook as other romance scams. First, the threat actors establish a relationship with their targets before trying to trick them out of their money. The scammers usually find their targets through dating apps, social media platforms, or as “random texts masquerading as a wrong number.”
What makes pig butchering different from other romance scams is that threat actors convince their victims to invest in cryptocurrency on fraudulent websites instead of asking for money directly. After the payment goes through, the scammer ends all contact with the target.
“Victims are then directed to other members of the scam syndicate running fraudulent cryptocurrency investment platforms, where victims are persuaded to invest money,” reads the US Attorney’s Office’s announcement on Monday. “Once the money is sent to the fake investment app, the scammer vanishes, taking all the money with them, often resulting in significant losses for the victim.”
Between May and August 2022, scammers led these deceitful pig butchering campaigns against five victims, who were then redirected to fake domains. According to the DOJ’s announcement, these domains imitated the Singapore International Money Exchange. The threat actors then immediately transferred the stolen funds through swapping services and private wallets in order to cover their tracks.
At this point, victims of pig butchering scams have accumulated over $10 million in losses.
“If you believe you are a victim, please contact CryptoFraud@SecretService.gov or IC3.gov to file a report,” the DOJ added. “Please provide detailed information in your report, including any purported investment websites visited, telephone numbers, email accounts, and social media profiles used by scammers, and any cryptocurrency addresses, transaction hashes, and dates of transactions.”