Beware of a New Social Engineering Attack Known As “Pig Butchering”

A scam known as “pig butchering” is targeting social media and dating site users

George J. Ziogas
3 min readMay 28

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© Bruno / Adobe Stock

First observed in the underworld of China, this attack vector gets its name from the process of fattening up a pig and then butchering it. Targeted individuals are initially contacted via social media, where their attackers gradually build relationships with them and gain their trust. The bad actors then run financial scams on their new online “friends.”

How it works

Scammers often make first contact with their targets by sending them a text or leaving a voicemail message. The attackers may randomly contact potential victims without having done any research to get information about them in advance.

The messages typically just say “hi” or something like “hey Joe (or some other randomly selected name), it was nice chatting with you yesterday.” The bad actors are hoping the recipients will, out of courtesy, reply and let them know they have the wrong number. If they do, the process of establishing a bogus relationship begins.

Criminals often look for victims on dating sites. They’re counting on the fact that those individuals are actively looking for new relationships and might be more likely to fall into their traps.

When a target does respond to one of these messages, the attacker will attempt to initiate a conversation and make the potential victim feel as though they’ve found a new friend.

The scammer will eventually attempt to take advantage of the target’s desire for financial gain or the fact that they’re looking for companionship if contact was made via a dating site.

Getting the money

Once they’ve established relationships with their targets, these criminals may strike up conversations about how they’ve been making a great deal of money by investing in cryptocurrency. They may attempt to convince their victims to transfer money into accounts that the attackers will, at some point, empty and close.

Scammers may provide their victims with malicious apps or direct them to websites that often look very much like the sites of…

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George J. Ziogas

Manners will take you where money won’t | HR Consultant | OHS Specialist | Personal Trainer | ziogasjgeorge@gmail.com