Pig Butchering: New Crypto Scam in Canada

'Pig Butchering' is a new breed of investment fraud that sets its sights and targets technologically unskilled and/or impulsive people. It lures in victims with the promise of mouth-watering returns and often hones in on individuals’ natural greed complex via offering visions of a luxurious lifestyle. This scam is becoming more and more prevalent in the Canadian bitcoin space.

Similar to romance scams, the perps of this scam cultivate trust meticulously over time with the intended target — initially showcasing profits from investments, which in reality is just made-up numbers on a screen. Once victims commit to larger sums of funds to the scheme, the fraudsters will ghost the relationship, leaving victims in financial ruin.

Why is it called Pig Butchering?

The term "Pig Butchering", as graphic as it sounds, describes the tactic used — as scammers first ‘fatten up’ their victims with fake gains before ultimately being led to slaughter for their remaining funds. The manipulation blueprint used isn't surprisingly original but has been used increasingly across Canada in recent months.

How do I spot a Pig Butcher?

Canadians can protect themselves from being pig slaughtered by taking some precautions:

  1. Use caution online. This is imperative, especially when approached by online actors with online offers that appear too good to be true, as the saying goes — it usually isn’t. Beware low risk / high reward pitches from anyone who wants to get you involved in anything using your funds.
  2. Perform your due diligence. Research, research, research. Look into the investment opportunity, the parties involved and who the target market is using online resources such as reviews, social media feedback, and visit their website/platform and check out their location, if it's registered and/or looks newly created. Verifying the credibility of the company and ensuring proper licences & registrations are in place is essential.
  3. Don’t rush. Avoiding knee-jerk decisions, being cautious and skeptical of complexities in investment offers, not disclosing personal information, and maintaining a critical outlook toward unsolicited investment offers are additional safeguards that can help avoid being a pig butcher’s next victim. The perp will often communicate a sense of urgency or time-sensitive element to the trade which moves the needle on those who cave to FOMO.
  4. Monitoring of investments. If you have done your research and there are no red flags detected, and you choose to proceed in an investment scenario — maintaining open communication with the investment platform can help detect potential warning signs. We can’t stress enough that profits aren’t profits until you’re in control of the funds. “Numbers on a screen, don’t mean a thing” is a good rule of thumb. Request information on how to withdraw your funds early into the investment period. If you’re provided with straightforward and helpful information, this can be a good sign. If you’re met with hostility, friction, or there is an unforeseen reason/excuse/delay — this could be a glaring red flag. And remember, no legitimate company will ever ask you for more money or crypto to “unlock” your profits.

Binance, which is a global leader in the crypto space, has seen a 100% increase in pig butcher scam attempts and reports from the RCMP and Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) have noted this scam is on the rise in Canada.

Have you been burned?

It’s very important not to consult loss recovery companies that claim to be able to recoup your funds for a fee. The vast majority of these outfits are scams as well, preying on repeat victims as they “double-dip” by getting the victim to send another sum of money or crypto in hopes of getting their initial loss returned, only to be swindled again. Contact the CAFC if you feel you may be involved in a pig butchering or similar fraud instance.

Stay vigilant, Canada!

Published: 2023-09-08


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