'Pig butchering' scams: What to know about the online schemes and how to avoid them
Protect yourself from 'pig butchering' scams
Kurt "CyberGuy" Knutsson advises on how to avoid so-called "pig butchering" scams.
Picture this; you're minding your business, browsing the latest cat memes, when suddenly, a mysterious message from a stranger lands in your inbox or DMs. It's not the classic junk email from a Middle Eastern Prince looking to give away half his fortune. Instead, it's a lot more creative, crafty, and for many, a much more believable scam. These thieves know exactly how to bait their hooks with the most tempting lures to reel in unsuspecting folks. It's a sad reality.
One promises the world; another offers an exclusive investment opportunity or a secret financial tip. In the most desperate situations, these scammers even pose as potential romantic interests from a far-off land. They scrape the internet for data relating to your likes and dislikes and use that information to their advantage. These swindlers, they're masters of manipulation, you see. They tap into our deepest desires - our dreams of love, wealth, and success - and dangle them out of reach.
Their messages pique our interest because they offer us a tantalizing taste of the life we've always dreamed of living. Who wouldn't be at least a little bit curious? But beware, my friend, as the old saying goes, "all that glitters is not gold." You might have just stumbled into the realm of "pig butchering" scams, where your hard-earned cash is the main course at a swindler's feast.
What's a pig butchering scam?
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These tech-savvy scammers have turned deception into an art form, using social media, messaging apps and even fake online profiles to fatten up their prey before going in for the kill. They'll weave a captivating story of friendship or romance, peppered with tales of impressive gains and once-in-a-lifetime investment opportunities.
Before you know it, you're the piggy being led to slaughter.
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From stranger to trusted friend
How does this fraud unfold? It starts innocently enough with a message from a stranger who claims to have found your name in their contacts or seems genuinely interested in getting to know you. Their profile looks real, and their life story is too relatable to ignore.
Protect yourself and avoid any scams.( )
Over time, they win your trust and start asking about your finances, setting the stage for their grand finale. Soon, they'll introduce you to mouth-watering investment prospects with screenshots of their alleged successes. They might claim insider info from a reputable financial institution or promise massive returns through crypto trading.
All they need is for you to invest in a specific stock or transfer assets to a particular platform. It's easy to think you're in control, yet in reality, your newfound friend pulls the strings, orchestrating a symphony of deceit. Once you've invested enough, the music stops, leaving you with a deflated wallet and a bruised ego.
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How to watch out for the "Butcher's Knife"
Check for the following red flags to avoid falling prey to these tech-based swine schemes.
1) If a message comes out of the blue from an unknown contact, resist the urge to engage. These scammers can be charming; however, your wallet will thank you for giving them the cold shoulder.
2) If your new online buddy refuses to show their face on camera, chances are they're not who they say they are.
3) If they start asking about your finances, it's time to slam the door on the budding relationship. Be cautious about unsolicited investment tips, especially from someone you've only met online. Take the time to research any opportunity that's presented to you and run it by a trusted third party.
4) Always be wary of transferring assets to unknown platforms. Do your due diligence and ask yourself who controls the platform, what security measures are in place, and how to withdraw funds if needed. We emphasize the due diligence part, as this step can seriously provide beneficial information.
5) Finally, keep your emotions in check, and don't let scammers play on your desires and dreams. If an investment sounds too good to be true, it probably is, and if someone's trying to pressure you into making a hasty decision, it's a huge red flag.
Protect yourself from an identity thief.( )
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What to do if you fall victim to a scam
While it may feel embarrassing if you are targeted and fall victim to a scam, know you are not alone. Don’t be afraid to speak up and report any scam. There’s a chance you can stop someone from scamming others, and you want to take these steps so your personal information isn’t compromised.
- If you gave any personal information, contact your bank immediately to flag the potential fraud.
- If you mailed any personal checks, call your bank to cancel the check before it clears.
- Report the scam to the FTC and the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
- Contact your state attorney’s office.
Use Identity theft protection
If you want a service that will walk you through every step of the identity theft reporting and recovery process, you should consider an identity theft service.
TOP IDENTITY THEFT SCAMS TO AVOID
Identity theft companies can monitor personal information like your home title, Social Security number, phone number and email address, and alert you if it is being sold on the dark web or being used to open an account. They can also assist you in freezing your bank and credit card accounts to prevent further unauthorized use by criminals.
Some of the best parts of using an identity theft protection service like my #1 pick include identity theft insurance to cover losses and legal fees, and a white glove fraud resolution team where a U.S.-based case manager helps you recover any losses.
See my tips and best picks on how to protect yourself from identity theft by visiting CyberGuy.com/IdentityTheft.
In the digital age, swine schemes have evolved to capitalize on our reliance on technology. By staying vigilant and knowing the warning signs, you can ensure you don't become another victim in the pig butchering scammer's playbook.
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Have you ever encountered a suspicious investment opportunity or been contacted by someone you didn't know on your personal messaging accounts? If so, you should ignore them.
Also, let us know about it so we can help warn others by writing us at CyberGuy.com/Contact.
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Kurt "CyberGuy" Knutsson is an award-winning tech journalist who has a deep love of technology, gear and gadgets that make life better with his contributions for Fox News & FOX Business beginning mornings on "FOX & Friends." Got a tech question? Get Kurt’s CyberGuy Newsletter, share your voice, a story idea or comment at CyberGuy.com.