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US Government Seizes 7 ‘Pig Butchering’ Romance Scam Domains

Vlad CONSTANTINESCU

November 23, 2022

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US Government Seizes 7 ‘Pig Butchering’ Romance Scam Domains

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) disclosed the seizure of seven domain names linked to a recent cryptocurrency scam referred to as “pig butchering.”

While the scam has nothing to do with actual porcine slaughter, its mercilessness likely served as inspiration, as the con artists’ end game is to drain victims’ wallets.

To some degree, the newly discovered scheme follows the same pattern as other romance scams; grifters establish a relationship with their targets, attempting to trick them out of their money. The targets are usually acquired through dating apps, social media platforms or even “random texts masquerading as a wrong number.”

What sets pig butchering apart from other romance scams is that, instead of asking for money directly, the con artists persuade their victims to invest in cryptocurrency, luring them to rogue websites. Once the payment goes through, the perpetrators cut all ties with their marks.

“Victims are then directed to other members of the scam syndicate running fraudulent cryptocurrency investment platforms, where victims are persuaded to invest money,” US Attorney’s Office’s announcement reads. “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 their deceitful campaign against five victims, who were redirected to the phony domains. According to the DoJ’s announcement, the domains spoofed the Singapore International Money Exchange. Scammers immediately transferred the stolen funds through swapping services and private wallets to obfuscate their origin. So far, victims of pig butchering schemes have amassed over $10 million in losses.

Dodging crypto scams can be daunting, especially for non-tech-savvy individuals. However, a few security tips could lower the odds of falling prey to them. These include:

  • Refrain from trusting unknown individuals touting investment opportunities that seem too good to be true; most of the time, they are
  • Do a background check on websites or platforms before depositing your hard-earned funds into them
  • Avoid accessing URLs you receive from unknown, or even known, contacts; phishing pages are getting harder to identify by the minute

Specialized utilities like Bitdefender Ultimate Security can help you fend off scams with its extensive range of features, which includes:

  • Anti-fraud module that warns you whenever you land on websites that might try to scam you
  • Anti-phishing system that detects and blocks websites that mimic legitimate ones to steal your funds or data
  • Real-time fraud monitoring technology that notifies you immediately after detecting institutions requesting a copy of your credit card report
  • Fraud alert module that alerts you if your identity is used to apply for a new mortgage, credit card, car loan or utility payments

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