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Attorney Says They Are “Receiving 5-6 Emails a Day” From Victims of Pig Butchering Scams

Source: AdobeStock / James Thew

Pig butchering scams, a rapidly growing criminal activity involving online romance, fake crypto investments, and human trafficking, have been plaguing US citizens, resulting in significant financial losses. 

In a recnet interview, Erin West, Deputy District Attorney in Santa Clara, California, said the problem is esclating, claiming that she receive an average of 5-6 emails daily from individuals who have fallen prey to pig butchering.

“We are receiving 5-6 emails a day from people who are victims of pig butchering. The most recent victim lost $5 million dollars and that’s not even the biggest amount one victim has lost to this scam.”

Compounding the issue, the stolen funds are funneled overseas to transnational criminal organizations in Myanmar and Cambodia, using trafficked individuals as virtual slaves to carry out the pig butchering scams.

According to TRM Labs, a leading blockchain intelligence company, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has received over 4,300 complaints related to pig butchering, with cumulative losses surpassing $400 million. 

Reports from FBI field offices indicate that the surge in pig butchering shows no signs of abating.

West Develops Blueprint to Tackle Pig Butchering Scams

West has developped a prosecutorial blueprint for tackling pig butchering cases in the United States. 

As an integral member of the Regional Enforcement Allied Computer Team (REACT) Task Force, West specializes in investigating high-tech crimes. 

When she encountered her inaugural pig butchering scam, West swiftly recognized the necessity of enlisting the assistance of Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, to unravel the intricate workings of the operation. 

“We obtained a search warrant for Binance, and they cooperated by providing the requested information,” she said. 

“This collaboration enabled us to create a blueprint that aided in the recovery of funds for 26 victims. We disseminated this blueprint nationwide, offering assistance to other victims.”

West elucidated that pig butchering is essentially “another romance scam, a meticulously calculated long-term con intended to siphon off substantial wealth to criminals on the opposite side of the globe.” 

“A comprehensive ‘whole-of-government’ solution is imperative to combat pig butchering.”

$2 Billion Stolen in 2023

Despite losing around $2 billion to crypto thefts, 2023 saw a slight decline in hacking incidents targeting the cryptocurrency industry. 

According to a recent report from De.FI, a prominent web3 security firm known for its REKT database, hackers managed to pilfer $2 billion in digital assets throughout the year.

While that amount is still alarming, it marks the first decrease in crypto hacking incidents since 2021. 

The REKT database ranks the most devastating crypto hacks, ranging from the historic breach of the Ronin network in 2022, where hackers looted over $600 million in crypto, to the recent attack on Mixin Network, resulting in a haul of approximately $200 million.

“This cumulative amount of stolen funds, spread across multiple incidents, highlights the ongoing vulnerabilities and challenges within the DeFi ecosystem,” stated De.FI in its report.

“2023 served as a testament to both the persisting vulnerabilities and the progress made in addressing them, despite muted interest in the space during the first half of the year due to the ongoing bear market.”

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