July 21, 2022

U.S. state and federal investigators are being inundated with reports from people who’ve lost hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars in connection with a complex investment scam known as “pig butchering,” wherein people are lured by flirtatious strangers online into investing in cryptocurrency trading platforms that eventually seize any funds when victims try to cash out.

The term “pig butchering” refers to a time-tested, heavily scripted, and human-intensive process of using fake profiles on dating apps and social media to lure people into investing in elaborate scams. In a more visceral sense, pig butchering means fattening up a prey before the slaughter.

“The fraud is named for the way scammers feed their victims with promises of romance and riches before cutting them off and taking all their money,” the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) warned in April 2022. “It’s run by a fraud ring of cryptocurrency scammers who mine dating apps and other social media for victims and the scam is becoming alarmingly popular.”

As documented in a series of investigative reports published over the past year across Asia, the people creating these phony profiles are largely men and women from China and neighboring countries who have been kidnapped and trafficked to places like Cambodia, where they are forced to scam complete strangers over the Internet — day after day.

The most prevalent pig butchering scam today involves sophisticated cryptocurrency investment platforms, where investors invariably see fantastic returns on their deposits — until they try to withdraw the funds. At that point, investors are told they owe huge tax bills. But even those who pay the phony levies never see their money again.

The come-ons for these scams are prevalent on dating sites and apps, but they also frequently start with what appears to be a wayward SMS — such as an instant message about an Uber ride that never showed. Or a reminder from a complete stranger about a planned meetup for coffee. In many ways, the content of the message is irrelevant; the initial goal to simply to get the recipient curious enough to respond in some way.

Those who respond are asked to continue the conversation via WhatsApp, where an attractive, friendly profile of the opposite gender will work through a pre-set script that is tailored to their prey’s apparent socioeconomic situation. For example, a divorced, professional female who responds to these scams will be handled with one profile type and script, while other scripts are available to groom a widower, a young professional, or a single mom.

‘LIKE NOTHING I’VE SEEN BEFORE’

That’s according to Erin West, deputy district attorney for Santa Clara County in Northern California. West said her office has been fielding a large number of pig butchering inquiries from her state, but also from law enforcement entities around the country that are ill-equipped to investigate such fraud.

“The people forced to perpetrate these scams have a guide and a script, where if your victim is divorced say this, or a single mom say this,” West said. “The scale of this is so massive. It’s a major problem with no easy answers, but also with victim volumes I’ve never seen before. With victims who are really losing their minds and in some cases are suicidal.”

West is a key member of REACT, a task force set up to tackle especially complex forms of cyber theft involving virtual currencies. West said the initial complaints from pig butchering victims came early this year.

“I first thought they were one-off cases, and then I realized we were getting these daily,” West said. “A lot of them are being reported to local agencies that don’t know what to do with them, so the cases languish.”

West said pig butchering victims are often quite sophisticated and educated people.

“One woman was a university professor who lost her husband to COVID, got lonely and was chatting online, and eventually ended up giving away her retirement,” West recalled of a recent case. “There are just horrifying stories that run the gamut in terms of victims, from young women early in their careers, to senior citizens and even to people working in the financial services industry.”

In some cases reported to REACT, the victims said they spent days or weeks corresponding with the phony WhatsApp persona before the conversation shifted to investing.

“They’ll say ‘Hey, this is the food I’m eating tonight’ and the picture they share will show a pretty setting with a glass of wine, where they’re showcasing an enviable lifestyle but not really mentioning anything about how they achieved that,” West said. “And then later, maybe a few hours or days into the conversation, they’ll say, ‘You know I made some money recently investing in crypto,’ kind of sliding into the topic as if this wasn’t what they were doing the whole time.”

Curious investors are directed toward elaborate and official-looking online crypto platforms that appear to have thousands of active investors. Many of these platforms include extensive study materials and tutorials on cryptocurrency investing. New users are strongly encouraged to team up with more seasoned investors on the platform, and to make only small investments that they can afford to lose.

The now-defunct homepage of xtb-market[.]com, a scam cryptocurrency platform tied to a pig butchering scheme.

“They’re able to see some value increase, and maybe even be allowed to take out that value increase so that they feel comfortable about the situation,” West said. Some investors then need little encouragement to deposit additional funds, which usually generate increasingly higher “returns.”

West said many crypto trading platforms associated with pig butchering scams appear to have been designed much like a video game, where investor hype is built around upcoming “trading opportunities” that hint at even more fantastic earnings.

“There are bonus levels and VIP levels, and they’ll build hype and a sense of frenzy into the trading,” West said. “There are definitely some psychological mechanisms at work to encourage people to invest more.”

“What’s so devastating about many of the victims is they lose that sense of who they are,” she continued. “They thought they were a savvy, sophisticated person, someone who’s sort of immune to scams. I think the large scale of the trickery and psychological manipulation being used here can’t be understated. It’s like nothing I’ve seen before.”

A $5,000,000 LOSS

Courtney is a divorced mother of three daughters, says she lost more than $5 million to a pig butchering scam. She lives in St. Louis and has a background in investment finance, but only started investing in cryptocurrencies in the past year.

Courtney’s case may be especially bad because she was already interested in crypto investing when the scammer reached out. At the time, Bitcoin was trading at or near all-time highs of nearly $68,000 per coin.

Courtney said her nightmare began in late 2021 with a Twitter direct message from someone who was following many of the same cryptocurrency influencers she followed. Her fellow crypto enthusiast then suggested they continue their discussion on WhatsApp. After much back and forth about his trading strategies, her new friend agreed to mentor her on how to make reliable profits using the crypto trading platform xtb.com.

“I had dabbled in leveraged trading before, but his mentor program gave me over 100 pages of study materials and agreed to walk me through their investment strategies over the course of a year,” Courtney told KrebsOnSecurity.

Courtney’s mentor had her create an account website xtb-market[.]com, which was made to be confusingly similar to XTB’s official platform. The site promoted several different investment packages, including a “starter plan” that involves a $5,250 up-front investment and promises more than 15 percent return across four separate trading bursts.

Platinum plans on xtb-market promised a whopping 45 percent ROI, with a minimum investment of $265,000. The site also offered a generous seven percent commission for referrals, which encouraged new investors to recruit others.

The now-defunct xtb-market[.]com.

While chatting via WhatsApp, Courtney and her mentor would trade side by side in xtb-market, initially with small investments ranging from $500 to $5,000. When those generated hefty returns, she made bigger deposits. On several occasions she was able to withdraw amounts ranging from $10,000 to $30,000.

But after investing more than $4.5 million of her own money over nearly four months, Courtney found her account was suddenly frozen. She was then issued a tax statement saying she owed nearly $500,000 in taxes before she could reactivate her account or access her funds.

Courtney said it seems obvious in hindsight that she should never have paid the tax bill. Because xtb-market and her mentor cut all communications with her after that, and the entire website disappeared just a few weeks later.

Justin Maile, an investigation partner manager at Chainalysis, told Vice News that the tax portion of the pig butchering scam relies on the “sunk costs fallacy,” when people are reluctant to abandon a failing strategy or course of action because they have already invested heavily in it.

“Once the victim starts getting skeptical or tries to withdraw their funds, they are often told that they have to pay tax on the gains before funds can be unlocked,” Maile told Vice News. “The scammers will try to get any last payments out of the victims by exploiting the sunk cost fallacy and dangling huge profits in front of them.”

Vice recently published an in-depth report on pig butchering’s link to organized crime gangs in Asia that lure young job seekers with the promise of customer service jobs in call centers. Instead, those who show up at the appointed place and time are taken on long car rides and/or forced hikes across the borders into Cambodia, where they are pressed into indentured servitude.

Vice found many of the people forced to work in pig-butchering scams are being held in Chinese-owned casinos operating in Cambodia. Many of those casinos were newly built when the Covid pandemic hit. As the new casinos and hotels sat empty, organized crime groups saw an opportunity to use these facilities to generate huge income streams, and many foreign travelers stranded in neighboring countries were eventually trafficked to these scam centers.

Vice reports:

“While figures on the number of people in scam centers in Cambodia is unknown, best estimates pieced together from various sources point to the tens of thousands across scam centers in Sihanoukville, Phnom Penh, and sites in border regions Poipet and Bavet. In April, Thailand’s assistant national police commissioner said 800 Thai citizens had been rescued from scam centers in Cambodia in recent months, with a further 1,000 citizens still trapped across the country. One Vietnamese worker estimated 300 of his compatriots were held on just one floor in a tall office block hosting scam operations.”

“…within Victory Paradise Resort alone there were 7,000 people, the majority from mainland China, but also Indonesians, Singaporeans and Filipinos. According to the Khmer Times, one 10-building complex of high-rises in Sihanoukville, known as The China Project, holds between 8,000 to 10,000 people participating in various scams—a workforce that would generate profits around the $1 billion mark each year at $300 per worker per day.”

THE KILLING FLOOR

REACTs’ West said while there are a large number of pig butchering victims reporting their victimization to the FBI, very few are receiving anything more than instructions about filing a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), which keeps track of cybercrime losses and victims.

“There’s a huge gap in victims that are seeing any kind of service at all, where they’re reporting to the FBI but not being able to talk to anyone,” she said. “They’re filling out the IC3 form and never hearing back. It sort of feels like the federal government is ignoring this, so people are going to local agencies, which are sending these victims our way.”

For many younger victims of pig butchering, even losses of a few thousand dollars can be financially devastating. KrebsOnSecurity recently heard from two different readers who said they were in their 20s and lost more than $40,000 each when the investment platforms they were trading on vanished with their money.

The FBI can often bundle numerous IC3 complaints involving the same assailants and victims into a single case for federal prosecutors to pursue the guilty, and/or try to recapture what was stolen. In general, however, victims of crypto crimes rarely see that money again, or if they do it can take many years.

“The next piece is what can we actually do with these cases,” West said. “We used to frame success as getting bad people behind bars, but these cases leave us as law enforcement with not a lot of opportunity there.”

West said the good news is U.S. authorities are seeing some success in freezing cryptocurrency wallets suspected of being tied to large-scale cybercriminal operations. Indeed, Courtney told KrebsOnSecurity that her losses were substantial enough to warrant an official investigation by the FBI, which she says has since taken steps to freeze at least some of the assets tied to xtb-market[.]com.

Likewise, West said she was recently able to freeze cryptocurrency funds stolen from some pig butchering victims, and now REACT is focusing on helping state and local authorities learn how to do the same.

“It’s important to be able to mobilize quickly and know how to freeze and seize crypto and get it back to its rightful owner,” West said. “We definitely have made seizures in cases involving pig butchering, but we haven’t gotten that back to the rightful owners yet.”

In April, the FBI warned Internet users to be on guard against pig butchering scams, which it said attracts victims with “promises of romance and riches” before duping them out of their money. The IC3 said it received more than 4,300 complaints related to crypto-romance scams, resulting in losses of more than $429 million.

Here are some common elements of a pig butchering scam:

Dating apps: Pig-butchering attempts are common on dating apps, but they can begin with almost any type of communication, including SMS text messages.
WhatsApp: In virtually all documented cases of pig butchering, the target is moved fairly quickly into chatting with the scammer via WhatsApp.
No video: The scammers will come up with all kinds of excuses not to do a video call. But they will always refuse.
Investment chit-chat: Your contact (eventually) claims to have inside knowledge about the cryptocurrency market and can help you make money.

The FBI’s tips on avoiding crypto scams:

-Never send money, trade, or invest based on the advice of someone you have only met online.
-Don’t talk about your current financial status to unknown and untrusted people.
-Don’t provide your banking information, Social Security Number, copies of your identification or passport, or any other sensitive information to anyone online or to a site you do not know is legitimate.
-If an online investment or trading site is promoting unbelievable profits, it is most likely that—unbelievable.
-Be cautious of individuals who claim to have exclusive investment opportunities and urge you to act fast.


57 thoughts on “Massive Losses Define Epidemic of ‘Pig Butchering’

  1. Pete Pallesen

    If it’s too good to be … well, you know the rest.

    Reply
  2. Gannon (J) Dick

    Wall Street has always been porcine obsessed in their lexicography. Before ‘pig butchering’ there was ‘pig lipstick’ and flying pigs replacing the flying cows of German lore, as if “Great Replacement Theory” was anything new or adult.

    Reply
    1. Jscott1000

      Pig butchering is what it’s actually called. FBI did not make this up.
      If you go on Facebook dating 100% of the Asian women in their 30s will be pig butcherers. They will say they live in your town but inevitably are in southeast Asia. It might take a day or maybe as long as a month but eventually the conversation turns to decentralized finance. If you resist they lose interest immediately.

      Reply
  3. Lily

    Thanks for this bringing some light to this scary problem. Lonely hearts scam have to be the cruelest scams in existence. Equally as cruel is that people are being trafficked to carry out these scams.

    Reply
    1. pattim

      Oh, no – human trafficking is *much* worse than lonely heart scams!!

      Reply
  4. an_n

    Classic confidence scam stuff with a script and trafficking twist. Pig butchering as a term is sorta clunky IMO.
    They could call it anything, bullsh*t suit tailoring, fool farming, mark management, choose your own scamventure.

    Reply
  5. I would have fallen for it

    Had this exact same thing happened to me. Though I figured it was a scam all along and would never ever have sent money or sensitive information. The person doing it was very very good. If I was a trusting I would have fallen for it

    Reply
  6. Landy Rise

    I know someone who lost $100,000 to a pig butchering scam. It all started with a random text message which he replied to. Thanks for making people aware.

    Reply
    1. mealy

      Begs the question HOW MANY RUBES out there reply to random SMS in 2022?
      There ought to be a damn standardized test to own bitcoin or use the internet.
      People are failing at the basics, you feel bad but WTF honestly can be done?
      Don’t talk to strangers. If they promise you investment opportunities, hang up!

      Reply
      1. Billy Jack

        I don’t like to talk on the phone and don’t like text messaging. I have received what would appear to be misdirected text messages, but I ignore text messages from anyone I don’t know or who isn’t already on my contact list.

        Reply
  7. Daniel D. Teoli Jr

    Crypto? It is nothing. BTC was nothing at .08 and was nothing at $69,000. You pay to have your name or number on a list and the list owns nothing.

    Be that as it may, I wish I had bought some at .08 and sold it at $69,000. I need a 16mm sound scanner for the Cine’ Film Archive and 1 BTC at the top would have paid for a cheap sound scanner. But I’m not a gambler.

    Crypto runs on the greater fool theory. You need a constant succession of greater fools to pay you more, or the same, for you place on the list that owns nothing.

    Spam emails?

    I archive em. I’m not a people person or I would go the distance and record the scam…for the historical record. But if I hit the lotto I will hire some personable person to do that work. I don’t like talking to people.

    I’m really surprised that anyone that knows about crypto gets snookered nowadays with SPAM. I don’t really know about crypto other than it exists. But I know about scam emails pretty good. Maybe it is the opposite. People know about crypto, but are not too sharp with scam emails. But the emails are so stupid. Seems like a child could figure it out. Maybe their Johnson does the thinking with these scams?

    https://archive.org/search.php?query=spam%20ddtjrac

    Well, if you keep getting hurt with crypto check out Gamblers Anonymous.

    Well, good luck to all!

    Reply
  8. Ducks

    Very interesting article.
    A few domains similar to the siste xtb-market[.]com that you are mentioning in your article.
    Based more or less on the same template. I have not dived into the fine details.
    There are several hundreds, if not thousands, of cryptoscam sites out there.
    Many of them are hosted with Namecheap and Hostinger. And they are safe there ….

    skytradingspace.com
    toptrendfx.com (messed up template, on site call themselves providusoption.com)
    grofinancialaccess.com (again a messed up template, on site call themselves providusoption.com)
    forex-genie.com
    genuinecashexpectoption.com
    capitalmaxfx.org
    forexiqoptions.co.uk
    compoundtradings.com
    pionexfx.live
    goldenbridgeassets.com
    irostrade.com
    crypticmerger.com
    directtradingbtfx.com
    monetaryoption.com

    And a related facebook group, “Four Clover Investment”
    facebook_dot_com/groups/266231661856826

    Reply
    1. Angie

      Ducks , you are right. Many are registered under namecheap. I think all hosting providers should play a part in evaluating the authenticity of a site especially investment or trading sites to eradicate these activities. Finally, banks should also send alert or raise awareness for huge transactions amount to individual bank accounts. Public should be constantly updated and educated for these kind of scams.

      Reply
  9. J

    I knew someone who was scammed out of $500 in bitcoin to learn more about crypto. They tried to get him to go to that xtb-market site and invest his money. He smelled something fishy and cut contact. Pretty wild that they are making this much money running scams like this.

    Reply
    1. Billy

      Holy cow, is this the same woman? If so, she sure seems to get scammed a lot. Maybe she is a scammer playing a scam victim to anyone who will publish her name.

      Reply
  10. Billy Jack

    Listening to telephone calls to Lenny on youtube (Lenny is a pre-recorded script designed to appear to be an old man in order to waste the time of scammers and telephone sales people), there appear to be a greatly increasing number of calls from scammers representing themselves as your bitcoin advisor (or something similar) wanting to help you set up your account for investing in bitcoin.

    Reply
  11. JamminJ

    I honestly wish phone companies would authenticate better. It’ll be nice to have a customizable firewall for phone and SMS. That way end users can auto block any message coming from overseas.

    There should be ways for the phone company to know if a call originates from within the US, or is relayed thru a spoofing service, or coming from a foreign call center.

    Reply
    1. JamminJ

      STIR/SHAKEN is what i was thinking of. Yeah, that needs to be mandatory, and then we can apply better rules to block those initial messages.

      Reply
      1. Bob

        STIR/SHAKEN is mandatory in the U.S. However, there are various deadlines for implementation that appear to be based upon the size of the carrier.
        I am beginning to see green check marks on a few of my incoming calls that indicate the carrier has verified the accuracy of the number being displayed.

        Reply
        1. JamminJ

          Thanks Bob. I can’t wait until it is fully implemented and allows for auto rejection of spoofed numbers.

          Reply
          1. Bob

            I have my iPhone set to send all calls from numbers not in my Contacts directly to voicemail. The only spammers that leave voicemail seem to be the auto warrantee ones. I also use the free version of Hiya.

            Reply
          1. Bob

            My carrier is AT&T. I’m not sure how much of this is from Hiya and how much is from my carrier.

            I have one that has a grey checkmark in a grey box followed by the text “Hiya: “. Clicking on the info icon brings up the typical contacts entry for a missed call with a note that says, “Calls with a checkmark have been verified by the carrier”.

            I have another in my recents list that has “Hiya: ” . Clicking on the info icon brings up the typical contacts entry with “Hiya “

            Reply
            1. Bob

              Well, I see a lot of my comment got removed by the HTML filter. That’s what I get for surrounding metadata with less than and greater than characters. Basically, the name of the entity that made the call appears after the checkmark. Sometimes it’s grey and sometimes it’s green.

              Reply
              1. an_n

                That means it’s within the same carrier or nebulously “verified” how?

                Reply
  12. Pedro

    There’s one more way they can extract move money from the victims after the web site disappears.”Recovery” scams are becoming more common. These involve convincing the victim of the pig butchering scam that a “hacker” will be able to retrieve some or all of their money… for a price of course. Any money paid to the recovery scammer is also lost.

    Reply
  13. Grayson

    The thing about the “sunk costs fallacy” is that the legitimate platforms do the same thing so people are already trained to expect it. Locking your account because of “suspicious activity”, needing more “identity verification”, or who knows what. So you’re locked in to do their bidding or lose your account funds. No legitimate company should be allowed to do this and it should be illegal.

    Anyway, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: “Normal” people should have to go through intensive training before being allowed online at all. Online awareness should be taught in all schools.

    Reply
  14. Rick

    I’m surprised that the Chinglish (or equivalent) wouldn’t be a bit of a giveaway.

    Reply
    1. AnonymousGal

      That’s what often tips me off that something is a fraud. I have a mild case of Asperger Syndrome and my area of expertise is English grammar. Another tip-off? The person will use the word “dear” to address you, even in the opening moments of communication. The use of the word “dear” is a cultural habit that many people from African nations in particular have adopted. These are often highly educated people whose English grammar is flawless, but I know that when someone calls me “dear” via text or email, and we are not yet on intimate or even friendly terms, that it is a portent to some kind of a future scam.

      Reply
    2. SkunkWerks

      As is often the case, “Self-Selection” is a thing here.

      Reference: https://www.businessinsider.com/why-nigerian-scam-emails-are-obvious-2014-5

      Basically put: those likely to overlook “bad english” (likely because they communicate badly in that same medium themselves) are PRIME targets for messages that look the same.

      And since the game is nearly always Quantity over Quality (why else have a call-center staffed with trafficked human beings?) it’s a great way to control your input as well.

      After all, why waste time with people likely to spot the fraud?

      Reply
    3. Jscott1000

      They are much better at it than you would expect. I engaged with the butchers for fun. Whattapp supports Google translate. If you speak too casually you will get an answer like “I don’t understand what you mean” but the answer will always be in proper english.

      Reply
  15. davep

    “involves sophisticated cryptocurrency investment platforms, where investors invariably see fantastic returns on their deposits”

    It’s not “complex” or “sophisticated”. It’s all fake. The “investment platforms” are just simple websites that show a fake return on money that is (pretty much) already stolen and gone.

    Reply
  16. SCARS

    This is no surprise. The numbers just released in the UK showed nearly a million reported scams and cybercrime just in the UK in 2021 and they only have 67 million residents – up 21% from 2021. Part of what is happening is that millennials who are a prime demographic for Pig Butchering scams tend to report more than regular relationship scam victims. So while the scam rate has increased well above 20% year over year, more reporting blows the FBI away since they have so little manpower dedicated to individual victims. Normally, only about 1-2% of victims report and with that the FBI records about half a million complaints through IC3, if that doubled to 4% the FBI would have great difficulty handling it. Just imagine if 99% reported?

    Reply
  17. Bobby

    I would say when it comes to money always insist on a personal real life meeting, should weed out a good chunk of the scammers….

    Reply
  18. So long and thanks for all the phish

    This is an excellent article. Thanks.

    Reply
        1. Klaus

          I checked the link and I do not agree it is a scammy link. Its just a channel where people are sharing experiences relating to financial scam incidents and how they went about a recourse.

          Reply
  19. Avont

    Yes and all this people who involved in scam are educated enough to create website they know english and also have good knowledge about finances and marketing.
    The harder life gets the more we see well educated people use their skills and education for bad purposes.
    Dont say guys from da hood do scams…lol no nowdays most crimes are done by well educated people thats the reallity.

    Reply
  20. Ted leaf

    Here in the UK,I find the best way to annoy ALL the different types of scammers, tele-sales etc etc is simply ask THEM to send YOU some money first.
    I keep a go fund me page especially for them ,guess what,it’s never recieved a penny from anyone.
    The ones I really enjoy are the calls from electricity companies,I let them blather on and on,ask them detailed questions,and then when they think they have a new customer,that’s when I ask them how much they charge for the very long extension power cable per month ,and then,after the puzzled reply,”er we don’t do extension cables”
    & then they ask why,that’s when I tell the I live on a canal narrowboat..
    Nasty of me,but fun..

    Reply
  21. L Jean Camp

    “the people creating these phony profiles are largely men and women from China and neighboring countries who have been kidnapped and trafficked to places like Cambodia, where they are forced to scam complete strangers over the Internet”

    And so harm to the most vulnerable people impacts us all.

    Also, being from the South, I call people dear and hon all the time. Yet Not A Fraudster.

    Reply
  22. Susan caldwell

    I was a victim of one coin scam I was left in tears , for several months I couldnt get on with life properly after losing about 75k to this scammers, I rather do charity with it or buy some exotic pets rather than just dash it out but I got lucky when I was introduced to hack101 at tutanota com they help get back all my funds from this guys .

    Reply
  23. B L

    This is a monster of a crime from top to bottom. Researching this in the last few months, I have also seen that there are some Independent contractors and chargeback companies out like fundspayback com , there are taking Jabs at this monstrosity and making sure victims get remedied one case at a time . I hope the ones kidnapped into carrying out this insanity can be rescued through the law enforcements.

    Reply
  24. PHP

    Not only investing etc.
    Europe has had its shares of large online gambling and casino sites.
    Everything is fine as long as you lose money, or want to pull out small amounts. But if you hit the jackpot and want to withdraw more than say $10k then there are suddenly all sorts of problems with your account.

    Reply
  25. Paul

    they tried to scam me with: https://web.archive.org/web/20210921151322/https://bnp-market.com/

    I still have the full Tinder transcript but didn’t record the call unfortunately (let me know if you need it waffiliate@tuta.io).

    What makes the scam so convincing is that they pretend to GIVE you money. During the skype call the investor (brother of the supposed girl) asked “how much money are you able to invest” and when I delayed the decision he just said “well but you can make money right away why wait? Wait since I trust you I’ll invest $2000 of my own money so that we can start right away (with making money)”.
    So he pretended to invest $2k on the platform (which was credited shortly after on bnp-market.com) which I had to return a few days later (in real money).

    This is probably one of the most powerful sales techniques there is to build instant trust, reciprocity and guilt but in this case it’s just used for scamming.

    Another very powerful factor was the voice of the caller. He taled in a monotone way and sounded like you’d imagine an investor or an investment analyst to sound like.

    All in all you have many red flags but the issue is that you’re always pushed back after a moments of cognitive dissonance: either this is a big lie (which falsely looks unlikely due to the effort they put into it) or I’m wrong. I can only imagine that if you invest then you’ll also have stronger denial and shame which prevents you from quitting the scam which is why they’re able to milk people out of these huge amounts of money. They lure you in first by “putting their own money” then you’ll return it and from then on the real milking begins.

    The way I quit is I told him I’ll only send money if he can prove that the bnp-market.com is in any way affiliated with BNP Paribas (by then I’ve called several bnp numbers and realized it was a scam; the bad part is that none of the BNP workers could tell me whether the domain was 100% no theirs they just either forwarded me to somebody else or told me that they never heard of it).

    The funny part was that even after I said that it’s an obvious scam (still during the call) the dude still tried to pretend like the platform was real and tried to guilt riddle me into cashing out his fake money and returning it to him. To do this he explained me where to go on the site and with all seriousness said that before I can move the money I have to upload my passport copies with my bank details (the respective bnp-markets page looked like your average verification page).

    Note that during the chat conversation before the girl tried to get to know whether I have crypto assets on any platforms (which is the final part of the identity theft was primarily for).

    Reply
  26. Hung Cao

    I had my money restored after I hired a professional recovery expert. I provided them with all the records of payments that I made. It took them just a little more than one week to complete the recovery process and I received my money into the wallet address I provided them. It is crazy how uptight someone has to be now even when flirting. If not that I was able to successfully recover my money, I would have lost 60k USDT. That’s crazy!

    Reply
    1. sableraph

      There are no “recovery experts”. So-called recovery agents are a scam as well. They can’t get your money back, and it’s not sitting in a bank somewhere. It’s gone! They will claim they can get it back. They can’t. All they will do is take more of your money if you let them.

      Reply
  27. yojad

    to not be scammed in the crypto field is a challenging process that needs a lot of experience and much emotional control, buy from secured websites is not so hard, people need to do their researches first

    Reply

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