Making Pork: A Day in the Life of a Cyber Cheating Warrior
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Fighting cyber fraud and making the Internet a safer place is my passion. I’ve helped create solutions at Square and Facebook to protect users from malicious activity, and I’m currently researching and advising clients on emerging threats. In late 2021, I’m focused on learning a new technique used by scammers, one that incorporates emotional manipulation of people. romantic scam with the attraction of Cryptocurrency investment. It is often referred to as “pig slaughter.”
I think I’ve seen it all…
During a regular customer meeting, one of Sift’s dating app customers flagged a specific type of suspicious behavior – pork killing – that they were noticing on its platform. Being an occasional dating app user myself, I immediately noticed that these types of accounts are common on other dating apps and took this as an opportunity to investigate. I rolled up my sleeves and signed up for every major dating app under a pseudonym to understand the structure of the scam.
To my surprise, I discovered a complex and increasingly common type of romance scam targeting users of dating apps. In this scam, targets called “pigs” are being prepared for slaughter – they are raised for a delicious profit under the promise of a happy ending and big winning cryptocurrencies. But in the end, the scammer ran away with the victim’s money.
I noticed that all fraudulent accounts are similar in that they are all fake profiles of successful business people. They often talk about financial freedom and wanting to retire early to travel the world with their family. Scammers showcase a chic lifestyle and model-like photos and include irrelevant answers to the app’s question prompts. They text unsuspecting users, then try to push the conversation out of the app and onto an encrypted messaging platform, like WhatsApp, as quickly as possible. This allows them to remain anonymous and avoid detection by any particular platform.
When the conversation takes place in a secure, unsupervised channel, the scammer will lure the victim to invest in fake cryptocurrency platformcontrolled by the scammer, ultimately allowing the scammer to make money with all the money “invested”.
Cyberfraud: Secrets with a Pig Butcher
After learning about the sophistication and cruelty of the scam and how it can affect 50 millions Americans who use dating apps, I want to know more so I can better understand how to protect businesses and consumers. And, I thought, what better way to look inside than to put yourself under wraps like a guinea pig?
After I connected to a scammer’s profile, they immediately started “love bomb” at me with repeated flattering and romantic messages. I knew this was a way to earn my trust quickly, so I kept playing along.
After they felt they had built enough trust with me, the scammer suggested we continue the conversation on WhatsApp. I followed suit and after less than two days they started talking about money. At first, the scammer started touting his crypto wins and bragging about how much he had invested. He followed up by promising to teach me about crypto investing, so I wouldn’t miss an opportunity to earn more. I didn’t want to break my shell, so I was hesitant at first, then they started using psychological tactics to get me to invest urgently.
It was at that point in our conversation that I “yes” and he taught me how to create an account on a legitimate crypto exchange. Once I was set up, the scammer claimed to know of a better exchange to trade with and sent me a link to a new platform. This new platform is not available on search engines and app stores, and domain registrant information is made private. This fake trading site mimics a real crypto exchange, showing accurate real-time values of cryptocurrencies, to appear trustworthy.
I put $100 worth of Tether (USDT) on a fake exchange and almost immediately, I started seeing income coming in. I suspect that this is because the scammer controls the profits displayed on the exchange and is trying to earn more of my trust by showing the benefits. I played along to show my trust in the platform and was motivated to invest larger amounts. During this time, the scammer continued to tempt me with phrases like “don’t miss” and “don’t give up” in an attempt to get me to put more money into their exchange.
After understanding this scam, I know that online scammers will continue to try to extract more money from me. There was no need to further “invest” with the scammers, and with his patience running low, I decided to confirm whether my hypothesis that this was a scam was correct.
Using publicly available tools to track blockchain transactions, I was able to track the history of the account associated with me. To my surprise, “my account” saw a total of $130,000, which confirms that I am not the only victim targeted by this scammer.
Combat sophisticated cyber fraud
Today, 22% of consumers people who encounter crypto scams will lose money and that number will only grow as these scams continue to increase. After discovering the inner workings of pig slaughter, I began working closely with Sift’s dating app customers to detect fraudulent accounts and close them before they trap more victims. .
After witnessing this scam, I advise consumers to keep the following tips in mind:
- Slow things down: If you’re talking to someone on an app and they immediately try to get you off the platform, that’s a sign they might be a scammer. Do not comply. Instead, step back and say you’re more comfortable chatting longer on the app.
- Money can’t buy love: If something looks too good to be true, it probably is, and if it’s that easy to get rich, we all will. Always conduct background research before investing in anything.
- Use reputable investment platforms: Legitimate cryptocurrency exchanges not only offer extra security measures, but in the event your account is hacked, it will be much easier to resolve issues with the exchange. When assessing the reliability of a cryptocurrency trading platform, make sure that you verify that the platform has an online presence on a trusted app store and/or search engine.
- It’s not just consumer-based: Businesses have a responsibility to educate users and the public about cyber fraud and online threats. If a business is seeing an increase in scams of some kind, it is the business’s responsibility to warn its customers. This will help reduce the number of individuals falling victim to these scams.
Whether you’re a dating app user, crypto investor, or even a cyber fraud researcher, there’s no way to completely avoid scams. That’s why we as a community – businesses and anti-fraud people – need to work together to use the tools at our disposal to stop scammers. Island appeared on dating apps from the very beginning.
Jane Lee is a Safety and Trust Architect at Screening.
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