Scams This Week 3/9/23

March 9, 2023

Scammers are everywhere and they’re constantly looking for new ways to steal your money. But there are a few red flags you’ll find in every scam, including the form of payment. While we often hear scammers asking victims to purchase and pay with gift cards, they’ll also request Bitcoin or cryptocurrency because it’s fairly new and not many truly understand how it works. Scammers have been cashing in on the crypto craze and combined with the emotional connection of a romance scam, the losses can be much higher. Over the last year in Boise, two cases of this scam resulted in over a million dollars lost by each victim.


Pig Butchering Scam: The scam originated in China, named Sha Zhu Pan which translates to Pig Butchering. This scam usually combines romance scams and cryptocurrency scams. The name while strange, represents the practice of luring in a victim, “fattening them up” by showing them high returns on their investments, getting them to continually “invest” more money. Then comes the “butchering,” when the scammer steals all of the money the victim “invested.”

So how do they do it? The romance scam generally follows a familiar pattern. The scammers establish a relationship with the victim online through various legitimate dating websites and social media. They use fake profiles and hide their locations and images. Once the relationship has developed the scammer then professes their inside knowledge about investing in cryptocurrency. The scammer will use fake websites that appear to be legitimate crypto training sites.  By doing this, the victim appears to have control of their account and is made to believe their investment is seeing huge gains. The victim, seeing the apparent success will put more and more money in. Then suddenly, the victim loses access to that account.

Typically the victims of this scam are highly educated people with money to invest. Unfortunately, they are often targeted because of some personal difficulty like a recent divorce. Most victims are anywhere from their mid-thirties to their early fifties with the average loss per victim averaging $121,926.

  • If there is a situation where cryptocurrency or gift cards are brought up by someone you have never met, there is a high chance that this is a scam. Be cautious and treat it as such.
  • Never invest merely because of the recommendation of someone you may have met online.
  • Never invest in something that you do not completely understand. Most victims will never recover those funds.
  • Do your homework before investing in cryptocurrencies. Make sure you’re doing business with well-established cryptocurrency exchanges.  The apps used in the pig butchering scam may appear to be legitimate, but they are not found on official app platforms.

Find more scam prevention tips on our website.

You can add Det. Thorne on Facebook or follow @DetThorneBPD on Twitter.

Contact: Boise Police Media Relations

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