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Serial ‘pig butchering’ scam victim loses almost $10m in crypto despite warnings

Serial ‘pig butchering’ scam victim loses almost $10m in crypto despite warnings
People & Culture
Pig butchering is a popular crypto scam.
  • A crypto user has lost $2.6 million to a suspected phishing scammer yesterday.
  • The victim has lost funds to the scammer on several occasions for a total of almost $10 million.

A serial victim of crypto scams has once again fallen prey and lost $2.6 million yesterday, almost two months after a security blockchain firm sent a warning text to their blockchain address.

So far the victim has lost a total of $9.96 million, according to DL News’ calculations based on on-chain data.

The giant scam started on February 6 when the scammer tricked the victim into approving transfers of USDT tokens — Tether’s dollar-pegged stablecoin — from their Ethereum wallet to the attacker’s, giving the scammer control over any USDT tokens in the victim’s wallet.

The latest wallet movements were first flagged by blockchain security firm BlockSec’s analytics tool MetaSleuth, which also previously sent the victim an on-chain text message on April 11 that said, “since you have approved your token to a phishing address, we suspect this is a phishing attack.”

“Revoke your approval to the scammer immediately to prevent further loss,” the message said, with a link to a document that explains how to revoke the approval.

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But these efforts to notify and assist the victim did not yield the intended results.

The victim sent $3.2 million in March and $1.1 million in April. There have been multiple other transfers of varying sizes since February, when the first scam occurred.

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The funds siphoned on the Ethereum blockchain yesterday originated from the victim’s account at the centralised crypto exchange Gemini. The victim previously used Kraken, another centralised exchange.

The scammer in question has used two wallet addresses so far with one being active between February and April and the other since the thefts recorded in May.

Pig butchering scam

The victim lost millions in what Taylor Monahan, a developer for crypto wallet MetaMask, identified as a “pig butchering scam” — a type of scam where the victim is tricked with fake investment schemes by someone posing to be the quarry’s romantic interest.

Pig butchering scams use flattery to build rapport and gain the trust of the intended victim. The scammers then prey on this relationship to con their quarry once they feel the time is ripe to exploit the victim. Just like a farmer who fattens a pig before slaughter.

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“Having read about 1000 interactions between our support team and [pig butchering scam] victims in the past week and looking at it on-chain, I can assure you it’s a victim,” Monahan said. She did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to the Global Antiscam Organisation, average loss per pig butcher scam victim is about $122,000, and 67% of victims are women aged 25 - 40. Although not all pig butchering scams involve crypto, many do.

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