A WhatsApp conversation between Sai, 52, from San Francisco, and the scammer, who goes by the name “Jessica,” reveals a shocking technique for a new kind of investment racket called “Pig Slaughterhouse.” Experts estimate global losses to be in the billions.
When Cy receives his first text from Jessica, she tells him that she found his number in her phone contacts and is contacting him because they are old colleagues. He couldn’t remember her, but she was kind, warm, and engaging, and soon their conversations became personal and on a deeper level.
Cy began to tell Jessica about the struggles he was struggling to provide for his family, his sick father, and how much the decision to send him to hospice weighed heavily on him.
This is happening in October 2021. And by December alone, Sai had already been defrauded of over 1 million dollars – a quarter of which was “borrowed money”. His finances were in complete ruin. Sai was “slaughtered like a pig”.
The “pig slaughterhouse” is a relatively new, long-running financial scam in which “pigs” or targets are “slaughtered” by people who convince them to invest increasingly large sums in supposed cryptocurrency trading platforms. The fake platforms are designed to look real, making victims believe that their investments are bringing fantastic returns – until the scammer and all the money they thought they invested is gone.
Victims often lose significant sums, and the practice is so lucrative that it has grown and is carried out on a large scale in countries such as Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. So far, U.S. law enforcement agencies at both the federal and local levels have made little progress in recovering the stolen funds and apprehending the perpetrators.
“The difficulty for law enforcement is due to the problem of human trafficking. Human rights defenders say that many of the fraudsters are actually the victims themselves – people who are lured to Southeast Asian countries with the prospect of better-paying work, and then they are forced to commit fraud, sometimes threatened with violence. Often their passports and mobile phones are confiscated upon arrival,” Gian Santiago, deputy director of the World Anti-Fraud Organization, told Forbes. He estimates global losses to be in the billions.
In a relatively short time, Sai lost more than 1 million dollars due to the “Pork Slaughterhouse” scam. The manipulation is played out through a heart-wrenching conversation over months on WhatsApp, in which he shares with Jessica the difficulties that accompany his life.
Gradually, Jessica begins to turn her victim’s fears and insecurities to her advantage. Cy, who has an ailing father, an overworked wife, and a daughter in college, finds Jessica’s seemingly quick and easy financial gains alluring. These details of his personal life soon become the key that the con artist uses to lock the door between Sai and his money forever.
Sean Bradstreet, Special Agent in Charge of the US Secret Service’s San Francisco Field Office, actively worked on many Pig Slaughter cases, including Cy’s. “His funds cannot be refunded at this time, but we are still investigating his case,” he said in an email.
“The scale of the pig slaughter is ‘unprecedented at the moment’, making it difficult for law enforcement to deal with – particularly as the perpetrators are largely, if not entirely, overseas,” Bradstreet also added.
For months, Cy continued to send Jessica desperate messages begging her to return the money. But to no avail.