Pig Butchering Scams: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

Pig Butchering Scams: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

Pig Butchering Scams

  • Pig butchering scams involve scammers building trust with victims before convincing them to invest in cryptocurrency or other fraudulent schemes.
  • Scammers often make initial contact through wrong number texts or social media platforms like LinkedIn, dating apps, Instagram, or Facebook.
  • They research their targets using social media to find common interests and build rapport.
  • Scammers use fake profiles and identities to build trust with victims and exploit their weaknesses.
  • Victims are lured in by the promise of easy money and the illusion of legitimacy created by the apps and platforms.
  • The estimated losses from pig butchering scams in the US alone were over $3 billion in 2022.


  • Scammers gradually turn the conversation toward money by presenting investment opportunities, but they avoid directly asking for money.
  • Victims are guided to set up their own accounts and invest, making the scam appear more legitimate.
  • Scammers use legitimate-looking apps and platforms to trick victims into investing in fake cryptocurrency investments.


  • Pig butchering scams took off during the COVID-19 pandemic when many people were isolated and vulnerable.
  • Pig butchering scams in Cambodia generate revenue equivalent to half the country's GDP, making it difficult to shut down.

Working Conditions

  • Victims are often forced to work long hours in scam compounds under threat of violence.
  • Working conditions in these compounds are brutal, with reports of abuse and violence.
  • Scammers are often victims of kidnapping, torture, and coercion.


  • Platforms should do more to prevent the creation of fake accounts targeting people for these scams.
  • Awareness is key to reducing the prevalence of pig butchering scams, as it can happen to anyone, regardless of age or tech-savviness.
  • Red flags to look out for include expressions of love or mentions of cryptocurrency within a month of talking to someone on a dating app.

Dealing with Victims

  • Kindness and understanding are important when dealing with victims of pig butchering scams, as they are often trusting individuals who have been taken advantage of.

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