What is ‘pig butchering’ and why China is cracking down on it | #datingscams | #lovescams

Pig butchering‘ is a term used to describe a type of cyber scam that targets people through online messages and lures them into making fake investments. The scammers pretend to befriend or romance their victims, and then persuade them to send money to various accounts, promising high returns. Once the victims have invested enough, the scammers cut off contact and disappear with the money.
The term ‘pig butchering’ comes from the Chinese expression ‘zhu zai’, which means ‘to slaughter a pig’.It refers to the process of ‘fattening’ the victims by gaining their trust and increasing their investments, before ‘butchering’ them by taking all their money.
Modus operandi
The scam works by first establishing a relationship with the target. Scammers reach out to individuals through social media, dating apps, or messaging platforms, and over time, build a rapport that can often take on a romantic tone. The scammer, posing as a friend or potential romantic partner, then introduces the idea of an investment opportunity. They guide the unsuspecting victim to invest small amounts in what appears to be a legitimate venture, showing quick returns to encourage more significant investments. Once the victim is sufficiently ‘fattened’ by investing substantial amounts of money, the scammer disappears with the funds, leaving the victim with substantial financial loss.
Operating from dystopian compounds
The scammers operate from secretive, dystopian compounds in lawless corners of Southeast Asia, such as Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Many of these compounds are run by Chinese crime bosses who fled China to avoid prosecution, and are protected by local warlords and drug traffickers. The scammers use sophisticated technology and software to evade detection and to impersonate various identities and platforms.
According to some estimates, ‘pig butchering’ scams cheat Chinese citizens out of billions of dollars each year, as well as victims across the globe. The US Treasury Department has warned Americans about the scams, and the United Nations human-rights office has said that more than 120,000 people may be forced to work as scammers in Myanmar, with another 100,000 in Cambodia.
China has unleashed an aggressive crackdown on ‘pig butchering’ scams in recent months, reaching beyond its territory and netting thousands of people in mass arrests. Its main target is a notorious stretch of its border with Myanmar controlled by narcotics traffickers and warlords, where many of the scam operations are based.
Jason Tower, the Myanmar country director for the United States Institute of Peace—an independent research organization established by the US Congress and focused on conflict mitigation—highlighted the discomfort for Beijing regarding the prominence of Chinese criminals in global scams. “For Beijing, it is a significant source of embarrassment that Chinese criminals are at the center of scams ensnaring people the world over,” he told the Wall Street Journal. Tower noted China’s concerns about the potential fallout from these activities, saying, “China is ‘quite sensitive to the narratives that could potentially emerge. These are largely Chinese crime groups which China, for years, did very little to check.”

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