Recently, the risk control system of the platform was intercepted for the transfer of high-risk assets of some users. The analysis found that criminals induced users to purchase digital assets to invest on informal platforms through online dating and it caused huge economic losses to some users. This type of scam is generally referred to as a "shā zhū pán" scam, also known as “Pig-Butchering Scam” or “Romance Scam”, and hereby introduces the detailed process of it and precautionary advice to prevent more users from being deceived.
Definition of "Romance Scam”
“Romance Scam" is a fraud method that induces users to participate in various types of fraudulent investments such as financial investments, gambling games, foreign exchange and other types of fake investments through online dating. Scammers call the deceived users "pigs". Next, scammers will follow some established scripts and define themselves as rich and handsome, then they will induce users to fall in love and try to gain trust. We call it "pig raising" during this stage. When it reaches a certain level of emotional foundation, scammers will start to lure the other party to invest, and the final stage of fraud is “kill the pig”.
The Fraud Process of "Romance Scam"
First Step: Become Friends and Gain Trust
The first category: The form of online dating. Scammers will actively add users as friends through various dating websites\social software (such as Tantan, Momo, soul, Zhihu, Douban, Tianya, Zhenai.com, Baihe.com). Moreover, scammers will package themselves as successful people. There will be a variety of scripts behind these and scammers will arbitrarily package into their favorite personal identity according to the user's needs, then chat with users frequently. The scammers will care for the users and show them love, so that users can fully trust them, and eventually it will develop into an online couples relationship.
The second category: The form of investment mentors. Scammers will show off their earnings under various types of platforms that offer part-time jobs, extra money, financial management, investment also tag these topics in the news, forums, communities, etc. Then, they will leave their contact information. They will wait for the user to add them as friends or add the user as friends.
Second Step: Arouse Curiosity and Encourage Small Investments and Gains
Scammers will communicate with users intermittently, often telling the users that "I'll go ahead and look at the investment trend". The purpose is to arouse the curiosity of users. After the users ask about profitability, the scammers will take the opportunity by asking them to invest in a certain investment project, prove that the income is profitable, and then encourage users to try a small amount of experience, saying that they can earn some extra money as a part-time job. If some users hesitate during the process, scammers would often use some psychological skills like "I have been playing for a long time and I am sure you can earn", "I have found platform loopholes", "guaranteed not to lose, count on me if you lose", "have a look at my withdrawal record", in order to dispel their worries. Wait for the users to break their last line of defense.
When a user participates in a small investment for the first time, he can experience the entire process of recharge, investment, and withdrawal under the inducement of the scammer, and it is basically profitable. During this process, some users may be discovered in advance by the risk control of various platforms/police, and the platform will have a manual intervention. Scammers will tell users in advance how to deal with platform audits. For example, “The platform is afraid of the users making too much money”. If the users do according to their guidance, the platform audits can be passed quickly, and followed by rapid profitability. Many users will do exactly the same and believe the scammers. The users will not listen to the persuasion and suggestions of the relevant personnel, and it will cause greater loss at last.
Third step: Unable To Withdraw When The Users Invest a Large Amount of Money
Users tend to believe in scammers and increase their investment. And, it will lead to being deceived under the dual factors of emotion and investment income. Cases involving in digital assets as follows:
The scammer will first ask the users to purchase the digital asset on the formal exchange platform and then transfers it from the formal exchange platform by withdrawing money (At this time the scammer has actually got the digital assets and the fraud is successful). Then the scammer will transfer the crypto to a new platform for so-called "arbitrage" between exchanges, or they will withdraw coins to informal exchange platforms to play with spot trading, derivatives trading, gambling games, foreign exchange investment, metal investment, and many more. Furthermore, the scammer will ask the users to buy and sell cryptos on behalf of them.
During the early stage, users generally invest a small amount of money, scammers will show a certain profit and be able to withdraw cash successfully. Some scammers even claim to have mastered the rules or loopholes of the Apps on this platform, as long as they follow him or her to make a steady investment without losing money. At this time, users are convinced and invest a lot of money into the platform. When the user's savings funds have been spent, scammers will even recommend multiple credit products and ask them to apply for loans to participate in the investment. Until the user is unable to provide more funds, the scammer will either declare that the investment has failed; or that they need to deposit more money in order for the withdrawal to run successfully; or send the user a fake withdrawal prompt. At this point, when the user realizes that he has been deceived and wants to negotiate with the other party, the scammer has disappeared without a trace.
Suggestions of The Prevention of "kill the pig" Fraud
Firstly, The “Three Don’ts" Principle
- "Don't believe it", you need to be cautious when making friends online. Don't trust netizens, and don't believe in investment lies such as "stable profit without loss", "low cost and high return” and so on.
- "Don't be greedy", refuse the temptation of gambling and high-return investment, remember that only greed will be deceived because there is no such thing as a free lunch.
- "Don't transfer", don't transfer money to unfamiliar accounts. When transferring money to acquaintances, you must also be cautious, and communicate more with your relatives and friends and ask more to prevent falling into a "trap".
Secondly, The Security of Your Digital Asset
Users’ own assets need to be strictly controlled by themselves and not handed over to others to deal with, and fields that they are not familiar with must not be involved. As an emerging investment market, digital assets have a certain wealth effect and corresponding investment risks. If users want to be able to obtain benefits, they should learn through understanding and participate rationally.
At the same time, it is necessary to avoid buying and selling on behalf of others and betting on gambling. Put the digital assets on well-known platforms and platforms with good credit. The most important thing to pay attention to is to recognize the correct web URL of platforms and beware of phishing websites that counterfeit the formal exchange platforms.
Thirdly, Suggestions and Recommendations
If a user discovers that he or she has been deceived, they need to stop the loss in time and do not believe those who tell them to invest more. While facing the scammers, you can pretend that you have not been scammed without knowing it, so as not to be stunned. The purpose is to collect as much information as possible of the identity, location, account number, and image data of the fraudster. After that, report to the nearby public security bureau immediately, let the police follow-up to get more useful clues and information for solving the case, and minimize the loss of the user.
Vice versa, you can also try anti-routines, falsely claim to invest more assets, and try to withdraw some assets from the fraud platform.