What is 'pig butchering'? FBI issues warning about latest scam


After the victim has made several investments through the phony site, any requests to have cash withdrawn are ignored or denied for one reason or another. The scammer then disappears, taking the victim’s money with them. — Image by jcomp on Freepik

The FBI is warning folks about a number of current predatory online scams, including one with a rather gruesome name.

“Sha Zhu Pan” or “Pig Butchering” is a type of investment scam involving cryptocurrency where the scammer makes contact with the victim via a dating or other social media app.

After building a sense of trust, the scammer will convince their victim to make investments in cryptocurrency, promising high returns. The victim is then directed to a website that looks authentic but is actually operated by the scammer.

After the victim has made several investments through the phony site, any requests to have cash withdrawn are ignored or denied for one reason or another. The scammer then disappears, taking the victim’s money with them.

According to an affidavit from a 2023 arrest, the scam derives its name from the scammers routinely referring to their victims as “pigs,” “fattening them up” by promising big financial rewards, and then taking their money, i.e. “butchering.”

Other scams the FBI says to watch out for include:

- Puppy scams, where scammers offer puppies for sale and take money but never actually provide any animals.

- Online shopping scams, where scammers offer deals through phishing schemes or fake advertisements

- Social media scams, where gift cards, promotions or vouchers are offered on social media apps but are designed to get your personal information.

- Gift card scams, where victims get an email, call, or text asking them to purchase multiple gift cards.

- Charity scams, where victims end up donating money to a fake charity.

- Smartphone app scams, where a purportedly free game ends up stealing your personal information.

To avoid being victimised by a scammer, the FBI recommends the following tips:

- Make sure all your financial accounts have strong passwords. Use different passwords for each account.

- Don’t click any suspicious links or open suspicious attachments in emails, websites, or on social media. Especially those asking for a password or financial data.

- If a company asks you to update your password or account information, contact the company on your own using information from their official website.

- Be wary of retailers offering items at very discounted prices. If a deal seems too good to be true, it likely is.

- Beware of purchases that require payment with a gift card.

- Use a credit card instead of a debit card to make purchases and your statements regularly.

- Make charitable contributions directly rather than through an intermediary. Beware of groups with names similar to reputable charities.

- Always get tracking numbers for items you buy online, so you can follow the delivery process. – pennlive.com/Tribune News Service

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