Pig Butcher Scams

Over the past two years online, I’ve often heard from attractive asian women who like photos I’ve posted such as this one:

They never want to meet in person nor talk on the phone. They want to get to WhatsApp as soon as possible. Then they talk about their impressive business and their international jet-setting lifestyles and they want to know how much I earn and they talk about their crypto investments, and by this point I’ve lost interest.

DC Palter writes:

Avoiding the New Pig Butchering Scam on LinkedIn

Attractive Asian women want to be your friend. What’s the catch?

…But the LinkedIn profiles of these attractive young women, mostly Chinese, seem off. Not the usual startup entrepreneurs. Though they live in Toronto or Los Angeles, they’re independently wealthy as a shareholder of a Chinese company or owner of a chain of beauty supply shops. Hmmm. Not sure why they’re connecting to a climate tech investor like me.

MIT Technology Review posted:

A scammer on LinkedIn may try to connect with someone through common work experience, a shared hometown, or the feeling of living in a foreign country. Over 60% of the victims who have reached out to GASO are Chinese immigrants or have Chinese ancestry, which these actors lean on to evoke nostalgia or a desire for companionship. The fake claims to have graduated from China’s top universities, which are notoriously difficult to get into, also help scammers earn respect.

While the pig-butchering scams targeting Chinese nationals are not the only kind of fraud happening on social media platforms like LinkedIn, they are exceptional for the amount of financial losses they have caused. GASO surveyed 550 victims and calculated the median loss to be $52,000; in comparison, the median financial loss from all types of fraud in the US in 2021 was $500, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

And on average, LinkedIn victims in particular tend to lose more money than victims of fraud on other platforms—oftentimes over a million dollars, says Yuen.

“Unlike dating sites, which are where the first scam victims were coming from, LinkedIn actually has a lot of information that’s really useful for the scammers,” she says. “They know your earning potential based on the type of work you listed.”

From Quora:

Their main interest is to separate you from your hard-earned money or get you involved in some “pump-and-dump” stock scheme so they can profit.

The typical approach is to use a photo of a cute girl to get your attention (candidly I’m not even sure they’re all women). They’ll then want to start chatting on WhatsApp or WeChat or telegram.

They’re not an AI bot. I am impressed by their nearly perfect English and good manners. They rarely make mistakes in spelling and punctuation. They’re adept at prompting you to open up by confiding about themselves. I sometimes felt flattered by their close attention and had to remind myself this is likely a scam.

My operating principle is that I don’t put anything into a text message or email (particularly to a stranger) that I wouldn’t want broadcast on a screen at Dodger stadium.

Needless to say, I’ve never lost money or much time in these chats.

These women never seem to have interesting ideas or edgy insights.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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