MDPD investigating string of online cryptocurrency crimes coined ‘pig butchering’
DORAL, FLA. – Miami-Dade Police are investigating a string of online crimes that target people’s crypto wallets and life savings.
Investigators said these crimes, known as “pig butchering” or “pig slaughtering,” are on the rise.
MDPD Sgt. Bridget Doyle with the department’s Cyber Crimes Investigations Unit, said these criminals target many demographics
“They don’t care who the victim is, they don’t care what the victim looks like, they don’t care about the victim’s financial status is,” she said. “They don’t care about anything having to do with them. They are doing a job like anybody else.”
Doyle described the elaborate scam, which unfolds over an extended period of time.
“They want to fatten up their target victim until they’ve gotten enough information from them or sweetened the deal enough where they feel like they’re going to get the most amount of money they possibly can out of a person. Then they take that pig to slaughter,” she said.
Investigators said victims receive an anonymous text message or phone call, and the stranger on the other end works to gain their trust.
“Once they gain their trust, they casually move the conversation to, usually, cryptocurrency investments,” said Doyle. “They’ll provide you with a cryptocurrency platform that a family member has started or that a friend has been using, and they’re seeing a high yield or a high return on their investment.”
But police said that website is a ruse, and victims are dropping their life savings into it.
“For one victim, their life savings might be $6,000. For another person, their life savings might be $500. For another, it might be $4 million, and we’ve seen a range gtom from the bottom to the top,” said Doyle.
Over the course of time, the victim looks successful as they check the cryptocurrency account.
“On the back end of the website, they end up taking the investment that you have provided, and they say that you’re gaining this money, but you’re not gaining anything,” said Doyle. “It’s showing that that you’re gaining this money, but your money has already been taken.”
Investigators said the scammers will try to negotiate with those who wish to take their cash out of their crypto wallets.”
“You want to take that money out, that your ‘get-rich-quick’ worked, and now you’re at $5 million, and when you try and withdraw that money, you now have to pay a 10% tax, and they will try and bargain with you,” said Doyle.
Police said the victim will try taking out loans, borrowing money from friends, all while negotiating to get their money back.
“By that time — it’s typically like a three-month rotation — the website is already down,” said Doyle.
And the person on the other end is gone, with all the physical money invested.
Doyle says avoiding this “pig slaughtering” scam is easy.
“I suggest that when you see a link, if somebody sends you a link to go to a website for an investment platform, you do a separate Google, or a separate internet search with your preferred search engine, to know the legitimacy behind that actual website,” she said.
Doyle also has an additional word of advice,
“If you don’t know them in real life, there is no reason that you should be able to establish a rapport or trust with this stranger,” she said.
In 2021, the FBI’s Criminal Complaint Center received more than 4,300 complaints related to these crypto romance-style scams, totaling more than $425 million in losses.