Pig butchering relies on a rich combination of apps, websites, web hosts, and humans — in some cases human trafficking victims — to build trust with a mark over a period of weeks or months, often under the guise of a romantic interest, financial adviser, or successful investor. Eventually, the online discussion will turn to investments, usually involving cryptocurrency, that the scammer claims to have earned huge sums of money from. The scammer then invites the victim to participate. Once a mark deposits money, the scammers will initially allow them to make withdrawals. The scammers eventually lock the account and claim they need a deposit of as much as 20 percent of their balance to get it back. Even when the deposit is paid, the money isn’t returned, and the scammers invent new reasons the victim should send more money. The pig-butchering term derives from a farmer fattening up a hog months before it’s butchered.
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