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‘Pig Butchering’ Scams Pose Growing Risk to Businesses


Behavioral fraud and social engineering scams are getting more dangerous for businesses.

Despite the increasingly sophisticated weapons fraudsters have on hand to execute their scams, social engineering tactics remain one of their most effective ploys.

This, as a study published Thursday (Feb. 29) by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin found that at least $75 billion in cryptocurrency alone — far more than had been previously estimated — was stolen between 2020 and 2024 due mostly to a particular kind of behavioral fraud known as “pig butchering.” 

Pig butchering scams are named after the practice of farmers fattening up their livestock before slaughtering them. The victim is the pig, while the bad actors are the butchers. 

The way the scams tend to work is by establishing connections with victims via wrong-number text messages whose conversations eventually lead to promises of fake investments, which the victim must pour more and more money into before discovering the ruse. While the approach may seem far-fetched, even transparent in hindsight, victims of these scams routinely lose hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.


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